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The Royal Achievement

The Government of New Zealand Achievement

The Royal Arms

The Public Seal







New Zealand was discovered and settled in the 13th century by Polynesians, who developed a distinct Māori culture centred on kinship links and land. The first European explorer to discover New Zealand was Abel Janszoon Tasman on 13 December 1642. Captain James Cook, who reached New Zealand in October 1769 on the first of his three voyages, was the first European explorer to circumnavigate and map New Zealand.

From the late 18th century, the country was regularly visited by explorers and other sailors, missionaries, traders and adventurers.

In 1788 the colony of New South Wales had been founded on the Australian continent. According to Captain Phillip's amended Commission, dated 25 April 1787, the colony included all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean within the latitudes of 10°37'S and 43°39'S  which included most of New Zealand except for the southern half of the South Island. In 1825 with Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) becoming a separate colony, the southern boundary of New South Wales was altered to the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean with a southern boundary of 39°12'S which included only the northern half of the North Island. However, these boundaries had no real impact as the New South Wales administration had little interest in New Zealand.

In response to complaints about lawless white sailors and adventurers in New Zealand, the British government appointed James Busby as Official Resident in 1832. In 1834 he encouraged Māori chiefs to assert their sovereignty with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1835. This was acknowledged by King William IV. Busby was provided with neither legal authority nor military support and was thus ineffective in controlling the European population.

In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and various Māori chiefs, bringing New Zealand into the British Empire and giving Māori equal rights with British citizens. New Zealand became a colony in its own right on 3 May 1841. It was divided into provinces that were reorganised in 1846 and in 1853, when they acquired their own legislatures, and then abolished in 1876. The country rapidly gained some measure of self-government through the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, which established central and provincial government.

New Zealand initially expressed interest in joining the proposed Federation of the Australian colonies, attending the 1891 National Australia Convention in Sydney. Interest in the proposed Australian Federation faded and New Zealand decided against joining the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, and instead changed from being a colony to a separate dominion in 1907, equal in status to Australia and Canada.

Nowadays New Zealand is a sovereign and independent Kingdom.




The Royal Achievement


From the time of Captain Phillips amended commission in 1787 the Royal achievement of Great Britain formally was also valid in New Zealand. This was used until, when New Zealand had received the status of a Dominion in 1907, a new achievement of its own for New Zealand was adopted in 1911. Royal British achievements from the period from 1840 until 1907 can be found in several places in New Zealand, for example in Christchurch and in Napier



A completely different  royal achievement appeared about 1825-’40. It is the royal achievement of the would-be king Charles I of New Zealand


Arms of the King of New Zealand


In 1820, Charles Baron de Thierry, a french refugee nobleman (1793-1864), met Thomas Kendall, a clergyman operating in New Zealand, and the Maori chiefs Hongi and Waikato in Cambridge England. He arranged for Kendall to purchase land in the Hokianga for him; this was done in 1822. In 1824-1826 de Thierry was at times in Paris, where he owned a bazaar with an associate Baker, at 359 Rue St Honoré. [1]. At this time he offered the French Government of King Charles X his Hokianga land on condition that he be appointed governor, pretending that Maori chiefs had appointed him sovereign chief of the islands of New Zealand. In 1837, Baron de Thierry arrived in the north of New Zealand and attempted again to claim sovereignty. Although he did not prosper well on the land he was allotted at Hokianga, he continued to send accounts of his success to France, until his claims were thwarted by the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. After some years overseas he returned to New Zealand in 1853, and began writing his autobiography in which he depicted himself as the most important pioneer colonist of New Zealand. Given that De Thierry still made such claims late in his life, his achievement could date from as late as the 1850s. An 1825 date could be supported by the fact of the handwritten address in Paris on the verso, 190 Rue St Honoré.[2]


Armes du Baron de Thierry, Charles Ier, roi de la Nouvelle Zelande.

Warner sc[ulpsit].[London or Cambridge? ca 1825 or 1840]., Reference Number A-320-026


The achievement is


Arms: ¼: I&IV: parted per pale of four: 1. Per fess: 1. Parted per chevron Or, Azure and Gules, in chief two castles Argent , their bases proper; in base a lion rampant; 2. Azure, a chevron Or, between three castles Or, their bases proper, 2 & 1; 2. Per fess, the chief of 1.2. the base Argent a lion rampant Gules; 3. Per fess, the chief  of the base of 2, the base of 1.1; 4. Quarterly Sable and Gules, a cross Argent.

II & III: ¼ Azure and Gules a tui perched on a flowering branch of fuchsia excorticata, all proper.

Crown: The Royal Crown of New Zealand

Supporters: Two Maori warriors with taiaha (traditional Maori weapon) and musket.

Motto: TENAX (Tenacious) on a bordure and  STRENGTH AND HARMONY on a scroll.


The first and fourth quarters are supposed to be of Charles de Thierry himself whose ancestral arms were, according to Rietstaps’ Armorial General:

Thierry de Villedavray D'azur, au chevron d'or, acc. en chef de deux tours d'argent et en pointe d'un lion du même. Supports: deux lions.


The second and third quarters are for New Zealand:




The tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae- Meliphagidæ) is an endemic bird of New Zealand. It is one of the largest members of the diverse honeyeater family. The name tui is from the Maori language name tūī .



The New Zealand fuchsia  (Fuchsia excorticata - Onagraceæ) is also known as Kotukutuku and commonly found throughout New Zealand


The crown symbolizes the royal authority. It consists of a diadem and three Maori ornamental waves enclosing flowers of the New Zealand Fuchsia and is crested with a big ruby.


The taiaha are sumptuously decorated an their spearheads are carved with Maori onaments.



The seal shows the achievement, probably within a (now unreadable) circular legend.


The Government of New Zealand Achievement


History of the New Zealand Coat of Arms [3]


The first recorded move to establish a Coat of Arms for New Zealand was in 1906. Designs were called for a Coat of Arms, however those being considered were destroyed when fire swept through the Old Parliament Buildings in 1907.


In 1908 the New Zealand Government ran a new competition to design a coat of arms. In total over 100 entries were submitted, mostly by ordinary New Zealanders. This New Zealand Gazette notice announces the second of the two competitions.

[New Zealand Gazette, no. 30, 16 April 1908, p.1184]


The competition was readvertised in 1908 and some 75 designs featuring everything from kiwis, sheep, cows, moas and lions, to stars, ships, British soldiers, Maori warriors and Union Jacks were received. Three entries were sent to England for final judging. The winning entry was a design by James McDonald, a draughtsman in the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts.



The three best coat of arms designs were selected from the 1908 competition entries by the Director of the Colonial Museum and forwarded to England for judging. Entry 52, shown here, was one of the two runners-up.

[Archives Reference: IA 9, 30/52 (ACGO 8341)]



Entry 53, shown here, was one of the runners-up from the second competition to design a coat of arms for New Zealand. It is different from the other runner-up in that it is composed of more uniquely New Zealand features.

[Archives Reference: IA 9, 30/53 (ACGO 8341)]



The winning entry in the competition for a coat of arms was tidied up before being officially accepted in 1911. Changes included replacing the Māori carvings at the bottom with more conventional decoration, and making the Zealandia figure more demure and the Māori figure less challenging. Further changes were made in 1956 to create the version used today.

[Archives Reference: IA 9, 30/75 (ACGO 8341)]



A Royal Warrant granting armorial ensigns and supporters was issued on 26 August 1911 and was published in the New Zealand Gazette of 11 January 1912. These arms, known as the 1911 arms, are no longer used.

Although the Royal Warrant of 1911 gave a description of the New Zealand Coat of Arms, by the mid 1940s it was found that there were at least 20 versions of the design in use. A committee was established to arrange for the redrawing and standardisation of the Arms, and a revised version received The Queen's approval on 11 July 1957.  The principal alterations were:

In the crest (which now is St Edward's Crown to symbolise the fact that The Queen is Queen of New Zealand);

The quarterings in the shield which were redrawn;

The supporters were redrawn so that they faced inwards instead of to the front with the Maori chieftain losing his hei tiki and gaining a kapeu (a greenstone ear pendant);

The scroll was replaced by two fern leaves (Silver tree fern (Cyathea dealbata - Cyateacæa))

And the name ‘New Zealand’ was used in the place of ‘ONWARD’ so as to give a more direct New Zealand touch. These arms are still in use today.


Description of the New Zealand Coat of Arms

The first quarter of the shield depicts four stars as representative of the Southern Cross, then three ships symbolising the importance of New Zealand's sea trade; in the second quarter is a fleece representing the farming industry. The wheat sheaf in the third quarter represents the agricultural industry, whilst the crossed hammers in the fourth quarter represent the mining industry.

The supporters on either side of the shield consist of a Maori Chieftain holding a taiaha (a Maori war weapon) and a European woman holding the New Zealand Ensign.

Surmounting the Arms is the St Edward's Crown which was used in the Coronation ceremony of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The crown symbolises the fact that Her Majesty is Queen of New Zealand under the New Zealand Royal Titles Act of 1953.


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay


New Zealand Security Intelligence Service


The NZSIS is a government agency, responsible for giving the Government advice about matters relating to New Zealand’s security.

The Royal Arms


Until the adoption of the achievement of New Zealand in 1911 the royal arms for New Zealand were the royal arms of the Queen and King of the United Kingdom.


It consisted of a quarterly of England, Scotland and Ireland, crowned with the royal crown and surrounded with the strap of the Order of the Garter. In its most extended form the collar of this Order was added.


With the introduction of New Zealand coinage in 1933 new royal arms for New Zealand appeared. It is not known when these arms were actually introduced.

The Royal Arms for New Zealand are in the tradition of the Royal Arms of England and the United Kingdom but also in the (later) tradition of the Royal Arms for South Africa and Southern Rhodesia

The first royal arms consist of the royally crowned arms of New Zealand surrounded by some Maori wood-carving. The strap of the Order of the Garter was omitted because this Order is not a New Zealand Order.


These arms were continued in the first years of the reign of Elizabeth II. New arms are on a one-dollar coin of the decimal-currency introduced in 1967. The crown on the arms is changed into the crown of St. Edward and the Maori wood-carving is replaced by two leaves of fern:



The newest version of the Royal arms for New Zealand was probably introduced when the flag of the G.G. was changed by introducing the royal arms on a dark blue cloth (2008).

The present Royal Arms for New Zealand are now the former crowned royal arms, augmented with the Royal Cypher within a garland in nombril point:


No decoration of the Order of New Zealand, founded 1987 and of which Queen Elizabeth II is the sovereign, has been added until now.


The Queen's Personal Flag For New Zealand


The Queen's personal flag, 1962


The Queen's Personal Flag for New Zealand symbolises the fact that Queen Elizabeth II is The Queen of New Zealand. Adopted in 1962, it is flown only by Her Majesty when in New Zealand.

The Flag is the shield design of the New Zealand Coat of Arms in the form of an oblong or square. Superimposed in the centre is a dark blue roundel bearing a Roman E surmounted by a Royal Crown within a garland of roses all in gold. The Central device is from The Queen's Personal Flag which is frequently used by Her Majesty in relation to Her position as Head of Commonwealth.

The Queen's Personal Flag for New Zealand is flown continuously on a building when The Queen is in residence and by a ship conveying Her Majesty in New Zealand waters. If the Queen attends a State or public function, her personal flag is flown while she is present. It is not, however, hoisted at every venue attended by Her Majesty. If flown with the New Zealand Flag, The Queen's Personal Flag for New Zealand takes the position of honour.

The Queen's Personal Flag for New Zealand is usually flown above the saluting base at troop inspections or other open air gatherings when Her Majesty is present. It is also broken when the Queen sets foot on board one of Her Majesty's New Zealand ships.

The only time The Queen's Personal Flag for New Zealand is flown in her absence is at parades held on and in honour of Her Majesty's Official Birthday.


The Governor-General's Flag


Present Governor-General's Flag (2008)


The Governor-General’s flag is flown on all occasions when the Governor-General is present, and takes precedence over the New Zealand Flag. It is flown continuously over Government House when the Governor-General is in residence, and on vehicles used by the Governor-General for official occasions.


The flag - with the Shield of the New Zealand Coat of Arms surmounted by a Royal Crown in the centre - was flown for the first time at a ceremony at Government House Auckland on 5 June and at Government House Wellington on 17 June 2008.  The official description is: “A flag of a blue field thereon the Arms of New Zealand ensigned by the Royal Crown all proper.”

The flag, which has been approved by the Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II of New Zealand, and is supported by the Governor-General, Hon Anand Satyanand, was announced by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Helen Clark on Monday 2 June 2008 - the holiday that mark’s the Queen’s Birthday.

The design for the flag follows a review of the Governor-General’s flag and emblems requested by Government House in 2005 and undertaken by the New Zealand Herald of Arms, Phillip O’Shea.

The review was called for because it was considered that the old flag lacked distinctive New Zealand elements and reflected an era before New Zealand became a sovereign and independent nation. 

As well, the Royal Crest and Lion, which featured on the old flag, are now widely used as a trademark by the Royal Collection Enterprises Ltd, a trading subsidiary of the Royal Collection Trust.  Items sold by this company are now available from commercial outlets in New Zealand.



Several flag have been used by New Zealand’s Governors or Governors-General.  The first flag used by the then Governor from 1869 to 1874 was the Union Jack with four five pointed white stars on the red ground of the St George's Cross. 



That design was based on a misinterpretation of the Order in Council and was corrected in 1874.  


This flag design featured the Union Jack with the Governor’s  Badge in the centre.  The Badge was composed of the letters “NZ” in the centre of four five-pointed stars all in red within a wreath of green laurel leaves. 



In 1907, the laurel was replaced with a wreath of green fern fronds. 


While King George V approved a new Governor-General’s flag in 1931, the then Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, was reluctant to use it.



The next Governor-General’s flag was adopted and used by Governor-General Lord Galway from 1 October 1937 onwards. It was dark blue with the Royal Crest surmounted by crowned lion in the centre and the words “New Zealand” (originally “Dominion of New Zealand”) in a scroll beneath.


Since that time, New Zealand’s constitutional status has changed from a Dominion to an independent nation or realm.  In 1947, the New Zealand adopted the Statute of Westminster, which meant the British Parliament could no longer pass laws for New Zealand without the request and consent of the New Zealand Parliament.  In 1986, the New Zealand Parliament adopted the Constitution Act 1986 which removed this remaining link with the British Parliament.


The Seal

The first Public Seal probably arrived in 1840 with Captain William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand. The seal showed Queen Victoria with crown and sceptre, and five Māori chiefs in various garbs and postures grouped around her. It was used until the next public seal was sent from England in about 1850.

[Archives Reference: IA 1 W2578, 158/90/1 (ACGO 8333)]




Between 1846 and 1852, New Zealand was divided into two provinces, New Ulster and New Munster, each of which had its own seal. These seals were designed in 1848 by the English chief engraver, Benjamin Wyon. Both seals featured the Royal Arms and a New Zealand scene. On the New Ulster Seal it was a war canoe with Mount Egmont in the distance, while the New Munster Seal featured a whale boat in pursuit of whales.

[Archives Reference: IA 1 W2578, 158/90/1 (ACGO 8333)]




In 1852, the provinces of New Ulster and New Munster were abolished and regional provinces were established. Each of these provinces had its own seal. The seals shown here are those of Otago, Westland and Taranaki, which was described as undoubtedly the most original and best of the series.

[Archives Reference: IA 1 W2578, 158/90/1(ACGO 8333)]







The New Zealand Public Seal was not wax as often imagined, but a paper wafer seal. The second Public Seal, sent to New Zealand by Queen Victoria in about 1850, showed an English settler and a Māori chief standing opposite each other. This was designed by B. Wyon R.A.. It depicts Queen Victoria in Treaty (1840) with a group of Maori chiefs.




The seal of King Edward VII (1901-10) shown here, differs from the seal of Queen Victoria in that it shows the royal coat of arms above a latin cross and a balance between a New Zealand Governor and an Maori Chief .

[Archives Reference: IA 1, 158/90 (ACGO 8333)]




Although seals can be redesigned with each new king or queen, the basic design of the New Zealand Seal remained unchanged for over 100 years. It was finally changed in 1959, after Queen Elizabeth came to the throne.

[Archives Reference: IA 1 W1893, 158/90 (ACGO 8333)]


It showed the achievement of New Zealand adopted 1956. The legend reads: NEW ZEALAND ELIZABETH THE SECOND QUEEN •.

This seal was confirmed in 1977:




as at 2 March 1977

The Seal of New Zealand

Proclamation 1977

(SR 1977/29)

Elizabeth R


A Proclamation

Whereas there has been passed in the present Session of the Parliament of New Zealand the Seal of New Zealand Act 1977, by which Act the assent of the Parliament of New Zealand was given to the establishment, by Proclamation, by Us and Our Successors of a seal to be known as the Seal of New Zealand for use in relation to New Zealand and all other territories for whose foreign relations Her Majesty’s Government in New Zealand is responsible: And whereas the Government of the Cook Islands and the Government of Niue have concurred in the proposals for the establishment of that Seal: Now therefore We do hereby proclaim as follows:




1 Title                                                                                                                                 2

2 Establishment of Seal of New Zealand                                                                                  2

3 Use of Seal                                                                                                                        2



Changes authorised by section 17C of the Acts and Regulations Publication Act 1989 have been made in this reprint. A general outline of these changes is set out in the notes at the end of this reprint, together with other explanatory material about this reprint.

This Proclamation is administered by the department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.



Reprinted as at

cl                                                      The Seal of New Zealand Proclamation 1977                            2 March 1977


4 Design and style of Seal                                                                                                    2


Schedule                                                                                                                             3


1 Title

This Proclamation may be cited as the Seal of New ZealandProclamation 1977.


2 Establishment of Seal of New Zealand

There shall be a Seal to be known as the Seal of New Zealand for use in relation to New Zealand and all other territories for whose foreign relations Our Government in New Zealand is responsible.


3 Use of Seal

(1) The Seal of New Zealand shall be used, in accordance with the Seal of New Zealand Act 1977, by Us and Our Successors and by the Governor-General.

(2) This Proclamation shall have effect—

(a) notwithstanding anything contained in Our Warrant bearing date the 29th day of June 1959 (New Zealand Gazette 1959, Vol II, p 1039); and

(b) notwithstanding anything contained in the Letters Patent dated the 11th day of May 1917 (New Zealand Gazette 1919, Vol I, p 1213) and the Instructions passed thereunder.


4 Design and style of Seal

The Seal mentioned in Our said Warrant bearing date the 29th day of June 1959 (New Zealand Gazette 1959, Vol II, p 1039), an impression of which seal is set out in the Schedule, shall be

and is hereby adopted by Us as the Seal of New Zealand.



Reprinted as at

2 March 1977    The Seal of New Zealand Proclamation 1977





Given at Our Court at Government House, Wellington, this 28th day

of February 1977, in the Twenty-sixth year of Our Reign.

R D Muldoon,

Prime Minister.

God Save The Queen!


Issued under the authority of the Acts and Regulations Publication Act 1989.

Date of notification in Gazette: 1 March 1977.




Royal Seal for New Zealand, 1959


Armed Forces



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© Hubert de Vries 2012-04-12. Updtatd 2012-04-27



[1] See: Raeside, J. D.: Sovereign chief; a biography of Baron de Thierry. Christchurch, 1977.

[2] View Full Descriptive Record in TAPUHI / View and/or order a copy of this image from Timeframes / View Archived Image on NDHA

[3]  After the New Zealand National Archives website

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