When we talk about a country, the country’s flag is pretty much the thing that springs to peoples’ minds first and foremost. The New Zealand flag portrays the realm, government and people of New Zealand. The New Zealand flag is unique perhaps, extremely similar to New Zealand’s neighbour, Australia. Many visitors find it hard to spot the subtle differences between the two flags. If you’re one of those people struggling with this conundrum, then read on.
The Blue Background
The blue background is officially called the Blue Ensign, as back in the gloriously immoral heyday of the British Empire’s expansion, most British colonies were given this as the base to their flags. Its royal blue background is derived from the ensign of the Royal Navy. These countries include New Zealand and Australia, as well as Fiji, the Cook Islands and other countries including Hong Kong and Jamaica. This flag base-layer was linked to the British Navy and later to one specific squadron.
The Difference in the Stars
Both Australia and New Zealand have the Southern Cross constellation emblazoned to the right of the Union Jack. This constellation can only be observed in the Southern Hemisphere, and is one of those starry delights that Kiwis unintentionally refer to in an affectionate and respectable manner when they’re with foreigners: “There’s our Southern Cross there. She’s looking nice tonight, mate.”
The stars of the Southern Cross emphasise that this country is located in the South Pacific Ocean. The Southern Cross on the New Zealand flag only has four stars, while the Aussie one has six and is more astronomically correct, though any New Zealander will tell you that’s just the Australians being picky. The New Zealand flag has stars on it that are in red, bordered with white.
Another part of the Aussie flag that New Zealanders will quickly point out is incorrect, and therefore ridiculous, is the Commonwealth Star that is located under the Union Jack. It has seven stars that represent the seven Australian states except there are only six states, because Papua hasn’t been a part of Australia for many years.
Another small difference to note in the star arrangement of the two countries is that the New Zealand flag and its Southern Cross stars only have five points, while those of the Australian Southern Cross that has seven. The similarity between the two flags boils down to the fact that the two nations are very similar.
The Future of the Flag
As recently as 2016, the New Zealand Government held two referendums to see if the New Zealand public wanted to change the flag. After much debate, many hours of discussion in the news, in parliament and down at the pub, and how many ever tax-payer dollars were spent, Kiwis reached a unanimous decision. Similar to many decisions that involve the government’s tried and tested bureaucratic system, Kiwis reached the following verdict: The flag would remain exactly the same!
Suggested Read: Why are New Zealanders called Kiwis?