Normally, the Museum flies the New Zealand flag. On anniversaries of national or historical importance two, three, five or six flags are flown. All these flags have a particular relevance to the history of New Zealand. The New Zealand flag may be flown at half-mast in the event of the death of a nationally important figure or person closely connected with the Museum. The flags flown by the Museum are:

The flag of New Zealand

The flag of New Zealand

As New Zealand's national symbol, and takes precedence over all other flags, as 'the symbol of the Realm, Government and people of New Zealand'.  Its royal blue background represents the blue sea and sky surrounding us, and the stars of the Southern Cross signify our place in the South Pacific Ocean.

The Union Flag recognises our historical foundations and that New Zealand was once a British colony and dominion. In first use as a naval ensign from 1869, it was approved as the national flag of New Zealand by King Edward VII in 1902. The Museum flies this flag daily.


Image caption: The flag of New Zealand © Wikimedia Commons

The National Māori (Tino Rangatiratanga) flag (NMF)

The National Māori (Tino Rangatiratanga) flag (NMF)

First developed by members of the group Te Kawariki in 1989, the National Māori flag was selected by a national consultation process as a symbol of the relationship between Māori and the Crown, and as a symbol of New Zealand. While this flag does not have official status as a National flag, it is considered a complementary addition to the New Zealand flag, and as of 2009 can be flown by official buildings after being recognised by Cabinet as the preferred Māori flag.

The elements of the national Māori flag represent the three realms: Te Korekore, potential being (black, top), Te Whai Ao, coming into being (red, bottom), Te Ao Mārama, the realm of being and light (white, centre). The koru is symbolic of a curling fern frond, representing the unfolding of new life, hope for the future and the process of renewal.


Image caption: The National Māori (Tino Rangatiratanga) flag © Wikimedia Commons

The Union Jack

The Union Jack

The Union Flag, or Union Jack, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. It is so called because it combines the crosses of the three countries united under one Sovereign - the kingdoms of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Ireland (although since 1921 only Northern Ireland has been part of the United Kingdom). The flag consists of three heraldic crosses - the cross of St George, patron saint of England since the 1270s, is a red cross on a white ground. After James I succeeded to the throne, it was combined with the cross saltire of St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, a diagonal white cross on a blue ground, in 1606.

The cross saltire of St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, is a diagonal red cross on a white ground. This was combined with the previous Union Flag of St George and St Andrew, after the Act of Union of Ireland with England (and Wales) and Scotland on 1 January 1801, to create the Union Flag that has been flown ever since. The Union flag served as the National flag of New Zealand from 1840 – 1902, and reflects both New Zealand’s close ties to Britain both in the past and presently, and our shared military history.


Image caption: Flag of the United Kingdom © Wikimedia Commons

The flag of Australia

The flag of Australia

The Flag of Australia is the national flag of the Commonwealth of Australia. The colonies of Australia federated to become a single Commonwealth in 1901, and an international design competition was held to find a new national flag. The Australian National Flag was flown for the first time in September 1901 at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne, which was then the seat of the federal government, and the design was given final approval by King Edward VII in 1903.

The Southern Cross, as in New Zealand, is one of the most visible constellations in the Southern Hemisphere, and the Federation Star is a uniquely Australian component – originally 6 pointed to represent the 6 original Australian colonies, it was changed to 7 points in 1908 to recognise other current, and future, Australian territories.


Image caption: The flag of Australia © Wikimedia Commons

The New Zealand White Ensign (WE)

The New Zealand White Ensign (WE)

The New Zealand White Ensign is the flag of the Royal New Zealand Navy, and has a shared heritage throughout the Commonwealth. With the first use of the White Ensign dating from the 16th century, originally being one of three colours of ensigns in use, denoting one of the three squadrons of the Royal Navy, it became the primary navy ensign in 1864.

The British White Ensign was used by the ships of the Royal New Zealand Navy from its foundation in 1941 until a specific White Ensign for New Zealand was introduced in 1968. Traditionally, ships and commissioned shore establishments of the Royal New Zealand Navy fly the New Zealand White Ensign; the Museum also is authorised to fly it to recognise the sacrifices of the New Zealanders who have served in naval conflicts.



Image caption: The New Zealand White Ensign © Wikimedia Commons

The Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign (RNZAF)

The Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign (RNZAF)

The Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign is the flag of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and much like the White Ensign, has its roots in the British Royal Air Force Ensign, introduced in 1921 when the Air Force was split away from the Royal Navy.

The ensign has a light blue ground with the Union Jack in the first quarter and the Air Force roundel on the fly. The NZ in the Air Force roundel has not changed in the New Zealand version since 1939, though the version used on aircraft has changed from containing a silver fern, to a kiwi, introduced in 1980 and still used today.


Image caption: The Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign © Wikimedia Commons

The New Zealand Red Ensign

The New Zealand Red Ensign

The New Zealand Red Ensign is the flag of New Zealand civilian maritime fleet. The first version of this flag originates in the 17th century, with it becoming specifically associated with merchant, or civilian ships, in 1864. From 1889, merchant ships from New Zealand were authorised to use the British version of this flag, and was replaced with the present, New Zealand version in 1903 – this has been in use ever since.

The Museum flies this flag on Merchant Navy Day to honour the sacrifice of all those members of the Merchant Marine killed in conflict, despite the civllian nature of their profession.


Image caption: The New Zealand Red Ensign © Wikimedia Commons


Flag Days




1 January

New Years Day

NZ / Australia / UK

26 January

Australia Day

NZ / Australia / UK

29 January

Anniversary Day

NZ / Australia / UK

6 February

Waitangi Day

WE / NZ-NMF / Australia / UK / RNZAF

17 February

Monte Cassino Day


Second Monday in March

Commonwealth Day

NZ / Australia / UK


Easter Monday

NZ / Australia / UK

21 April

Actual birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II

WE / NZ / Australia / UK / RNZAF

25 April


WE / NZ / Australia / UK / RNZAF

Nearest Sunday to 20 May

Battle of Crete Day

NZ / Australia / UK

Nearest Sunday to 30 of May

US Memorial Day


First Monday in June

Official birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II

WE / NZ / Australia / UK / RNZAF

25 June

Anniversary of the Korean War


31 July

End of the Malayan Emergency


15 August

End of World War II

WE / NZ / Australia / UK / RNZAF

18 August

New Zealand Vietnam Veterans Day


3 September

Merchant Navy Day

NZ / Red Ensign

Sunday following 13 September

Air Forces Commonwealth Day

NZ / Australia / UK

26 September

Dominion Day

NZ / Australia / UK

23 October

Alamein Day

NZ / Australia / UK

27 October

Museum's birthday

WE / NZ / Australia / UK / RNZAF

Fourth Monday in October

Labour Day

NZ / Australia / UK

Second Sunday in November

Remembrance Sunday

NZ / Australia / UK

11 November

Armistice Day

NZ / Australia / UK

14 November

Prince of Wales Birthday

NZ / Australia / UK

26 December

Boxing Day

NZ / Australia / UK



National Māori Flag


Royal New Zealand Navy White Ensign


Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign


Half-masting the New Zealand Flag

Flags are flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning. From time to time the Museum will fly its flag (or flags) at half mast to mark the passing of a significant national or international figure, or one with a particular connection to the Museum. The flag may also be half masted at times of national tragedy. Visit the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website for more information.

Flag precedence

There is a strict order of precedence that must be observed when flying flags. The senior position for a flag, if more than one is flying, is the forward most flag on the building's right (your left as you look at the building). The Museum has two rows of flag poles, and when all five are flying, there is one row of three forward, and one row of two behind. Therefore the New Zealand flag, on these days, flies on the forward most flag pole on the right. National flags are next in the order of precedence, and fly alphabetically. Defence force ensigns rank next, and therefore fly in the second row.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Culture and Heritage website.