This flag was made to raise funds for the Soldiers' Queen in the Auckland Patriotic Queen Carnival.
Queen of fundraising
Queens Carnivals were a popular fundraising initiative in the 20th century. During the First World War, carnivals included performances, parades and the sale of local produce.
Usually, a dozen candidates (such as Queen of the Seas, Queen of the Dardanelles, Country Queen, Queen of the North) competed to be elected the 'Queen of the Carnival', with the winner pronounced queen in a coronation ceremony. In the lead up to a carnival, the Queens were tasked with fundraising for returning soldiers, their families and war refugees.
The Auckland Patriotic Queen Carnival 1915
Twelve candidates competed to be Queen in the Auckland Carnival in 1915.
The New Zealand Ensign named "Our Soldiers' Flag" was a fundraiser for the Soldiers' Queen, Mrs Alice Wallingford, who was the wife of Captain Wallingford.
Mrs Agnes Keary embroidered names on the flag for a 'gold coin' fee of ten shillings each. It proved so popular that names kept being added even after the carnival had finished. The flag was presented during an fete at Point Erin Park. More than 20,000 people attended the event, which was organised by the Ponsonby unit of the National Reserve in support of Mrs Wallingford's fundraising efforts. The New Zealand Herald reported:
"During the evening the Union Jack presented to the group by Mrs A J Keary was unfurled, and the names of many Auckland soldiers now at the front will be embroidered on the flag as a result of the gold contributions received. Dainty souvenir programmes containing an autograph photograph of" the Soldiers' Queen were sold in large numbers."
New Zealand Herald, Volume LII, Issue 16057, 25 October 1915, Page 4.
The flag is embroidered with the names of the Hauraki Squadron of the Auckland Mounted Rifles. At the centre of the Jack is the name of Cyril Bassett, VC. The flag fundraising initiative raised £305 for the Auckland Wounded Soldiers' Fund.
Mrs Wallingford placed fourth in the Queen Carnival, held in Auckland in November 1915. In the 10 weeks leading up to the coronation, nearly 21 million votes were cast - at a price of threepence per vote. The carnival raised a total of £269,000 ($37 million today).
A replica of Our Soldiers' Flag is on display in the Home Front - Experiences of the First World War in New Zealand exhibition.