Symbol of Land and People
The New Zealand Flag bears elements in it that stand symbolically for land, government, and people.
Surrounded by sea and sky the blue background pays tribute to the land. The four five pointed, red stars bordered by white resemble the Southern Cross without the fifth star, the epsilon cru. These stars are seen at clear sky all year round in the southern hemisphere. Finally the Union Jack in one quarter gives acknowledgement to the history. New Zealand was once a British colony and Dominion.
Even though New Zealand is independent since 1907 and maintains a parliamentary democracy the British Crown remains the chief of state represented by a governor general. The latter one is appointed by the monarch of the United Kingdom. The governor general in turn announces the leader of a majority party or majority coalition as a prime minister as well as the deputy prime minister.
Marine issues in Sydney’s harbour, in 1830, before the time of British colonization, implored the need for New Zealand to display a flag. Australia, then a British colony, demanded for ships to anchor in Sydney harbour representative papers of construction, ownership, and nationality. Australia was New Zealand’s major trading partner so the urge to act was clear. In 1834 the flag of the united tribes was chosen by 25 Maori chiefs of the north.
In 1840 on February the 6th with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Union Jack replaced the four 8 pointed stars in one quarter of the flag. To the present day the treaty is commemorated as a public holiday called Waitangi Day. The sixth February is a day filled with traditional and concert events.
In the year 2002 the national flag of today had its one hundredth birthday.
For special celebrations that are in honour of Maori people a New Zealand flag is hauled with blue replaced by red. The colour red is in Maori tradition regarded as a sacred colour.