The Flag of Aotearoa New Zealand

Flag of Aotearoa New Zealand


This is a proposal for a new national flag of New Zealand, called The Flag of Aotearoa New Zealand.

One alternative design is also provided.


Canada adopted its country's current flag in 1965, following the government's desire for a distinctive national flag as a vehicle to promote national unity. There was a predictable opposition to changing from its colonial flag, which, like the current New Zealand flag, carried a Union Jack in its upper corner. But once the bold and distinctive red and white design was selected, the Canadian people proudly began to identify it with their country and their country with their flag.

The Canadian Red Ensign
The Canadian Red Ensign, the de facto flag of Canada prior to 1965
The Flag of Canada
The Flag of Canada
The Flag of New Zealand
The Flag of New Zealand
The Flag of Aotearoa New Zealand
The Flag of Aotearoa New Zealand

I believe New Zealand is ready to finally shed the colonial image suggested by the current flag, as yet another member of the British Commonwealth, and stand together as an independent nation, under a bold new flag, one that anyone on earth would henceforth identify, like the Canadian, Indian, or Japanese flags, as the flag of our country.


The choice of a triband (also known as a tricolour) is deliberate, as it is a type of flag or banner design which originated in the 16th century as a symbol of liberty, republicanism, the symbol of an independent nation.

The design derives elements from the Tino Rangitiratanga flag, which, while a beautiful design, is often considered as "the Maori flag" and likely too politically divisive to become the national flag. We can honour its heritage in the design of a new flag that is more inclusive, open and optimistic.

The design simplifies the koru and changes the top section from the black of the night sky to the sky blue of daylight, which suggests a new world, a new country, an optimistic nation. The blue is called 'bleu celeste' and is the same colour as found on the United Nations flag, where it is described as being "the colour of the sky as seen from every nation on Earth". This seems fitting.

The middle band of white symbolises peace and purity, a white cloud rolling across the face of the land.

Where on the Tino Rangitiratanga flag we find red symbolising the earth-mother, it is also the colour of blood and battle. While red is graphically bold and the most common colour on flags (indeed, red, white and blue the most common combination), it may also be considered representative of war and violence. But red also has a long tradition, particularly for new countries, of representing the blood shed in the formation of the nation. (An earlier flag design used red rather than green.)

In my experience most Kiwis think of this country as peaceful, green, and a land of abundance (such as suggested by New Zealand's existing "100% pure" image), so this flag changes the red of blood and battle to a forest green, the predominant colour of the New Zealand landscape. The green therefore represents prosperity, abundance, our beautiful land.

With the adoption of a triband design the aspect ratio of the flag is changed from 1:2 to 3:5.

Colour Specifications

The specific colour of blue is called 'Bleu celeste'; as a print colour it is Pantone 279; as a transmitted colour (e.g., on a computer screen) it is specified as HSV(216,61,90), RGB(90,146,229) or "#5a92e5".

The specific colour of green is called 'Dark Forest Green'; as a print colour it is Pantone 357; as a transmitted colour it is specified as HSV(106,80,35), RGB(35,90,18) or "#235a12".

Formal Description

The formal (vexillological) description of the Flag of Aotearoa New Zealand is as follows:

The blazon is a horizontal tricolour, tierced in fess bleu celeste, per pale offset to dexter by a koru bleu celeste and argent, and vert de forêt.

In English this means that the flag is a horizontal tricolour (divided vertically into thirds), the top third sky blue, the middle third white, the bottom third a forest green, with a blue and white koru splitting the middle section 1/3rd of the way from the end connected to the flag pole.

Alternative Design

The original design of the Flag of Aotearoa New Zealand was blue, white and red. It's included here as an alternative design submission.

Flag of Aotearoa New Zealand - Alt 4

Red ochre (called kōkōwai in Te Reo) is the dark red-brown earth pigment used for Kowhaiwhai patterns. It is commonly represented on Tino Rangitiratanga flags by a bright red. This design reflects that same usage and also carries another traditional meaning, honouring the blood of our ancestors in shaping this beautiful land.

Further Information

I can provide the technical specifications for the design, vector graphics files, and its Pantone (print) and online colours. I am having a sample manufactured to promote the design. In 2010 it was produced as a painting on canvas, 1m by 1.6m in size, which can be viewed upon request.

Please note that the design is Copyright 2010-2014 Murray Altheim. If the flag were to be selected I want to make clear that I would release all rights, but until such a situation arises it is protected by copyright.

—  Murray Altheim

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Last revised: 19 February 2014