History of the New
Zealand Coat of Arms
The first recorded move to establish a
Coat of Arms for New Zealand was 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.
The competition was readvertised in
1908 and some 754 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.
A Royal Warrant granting armorial
ensigns and supports 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 in 1956. 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
and the name 'New Zealand' was used in the place of 'onwards' so as to
give a more direct New Zealand touch. These arms are still in use today.
Description of the New Zealand Coat
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 1953.
Use of the Coat of Arms
The use of the New Zealand Coat of
Arms is restricted to Government. It may not be used by private
individuals or organisations.
Private persons and organisations may
display the Arms as a decorative feature on particular national
occasions, for example Royal Visits, and Jubilee celebrations provided
the display is not a permanent feature. Use of the Arms may be permitted
on permanent souvenirs of a particular event, for example a Royal
Anniversary or Visit. Advice of permission to use the Arms in this
manner is published in the New Zealand Gazette. Publishers of
encyclopaedia, educational and heraldry books may be granted permission
to reproduce the Arms in certain circumstances.