The present flag of New Zealand has been our official flag since King Edward VII approved it in 1902. Its royal blue background is reminiscent of the blue sea and clear sky surrounding us. The stars of the Southern Cross emphasise this country’s location in the Southern Hemisphere. The Union Flag in the upper corner gives recognition to our historical foundations. These parts combine to form the symbol of New Zealand, a free and independent nation.
The national flag is used on government owned ships as a “government ensign”. This not only shows what country this ship is from, but also who owns it.
Privately owned ships from New Zealand use a red “civil ensign”. This shows that the ship is from New Zealand, but that it is not government property.
The military uses the government ensign, but it also has a white ensign used only on military ships.
As New Zealand’s Head of State, the Queen has a personal flag to represent her. This “personal standard” was adopted in 1962. It consists of the shield of the New Zealand Government Coat of Arms with an “E” emblem in the centre.
The Queen has personal standards for several of the other Commonwealth Realms, including Australia, Canada, and Jamaica.
The Governor-General of New Zealand also has a personal flag. The current design is the third one used by Governors-General in New Zealand. This version was approved by the Queen in 2008.