United Tribes flag

A version of the United Tribes’ ensign copied from a plate in a Book of flags, 1845.

New Zealand’s first official flag was the flag of the United Tribes. It was selected on 20 March 1834 by 25 chiefs from the Far North who, with their followers, had gathered at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. Missionaries, settlers and the commanders of 13 ships were also present. The official British Resident, James Busby, made a speech and then asked each chief to come forward in turn and select a flag from three possibilities. The son of one of the chiefs recorded the votes. A flag based on the St George’s cross that was already used by the Church Missionary Society is said to have received 12 votes, the other designs 10 and 3. Busby declared the chosen flag the national flag of New Zealand and had it hoisted on a flagpole to a 21-gun salute from HMS Alligator.

Credit

Alexander Turnbull Library
James Laurenson Collection
Reference: MS-Papers-0009-09-01
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa must be obtained before any reuse of this image.

How to cite this page: 'United Tribes flag', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/taming-the-frontier/united-tribes-flag, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 6-Jun-2014

Community contributions


kiwi shipper
12 Mar 2014

A version of the first New Zealand flag was "gifted" to Shaw Savill Line who commenced trade to New Zealand from UK in 1858. The only difference between the two flags is the number of pointers on the stars. 8 on the original 6 on Shaw Savill's version.

nonymous
29 Jul 2011
1830 Hokianga-built trading ship Sir George Murray was seized in Sydney by Customs officials for sailing without a flag or register. without a flag or register the Maori nation, trading ships and their valuable cargos would continue 2 b seized. The seizure of the Sir George Murray and her detainment in Neutral Bay occured whilst 2 principle Maori chiefs believed to be Patuone and Taonui were on board. Upon arriving in the bay of islands in 1833 to take up the position of British resident, James Busby almost immediately wrote 2 the colonial secretary in New South Wales suggesting that a flag be adopted to represent the Sovereign Nation of the Maori. Busby also saw the flag as a way of encouraging Maori chiefs to work together.The Australian authorities agreed whole heartedly with his proposal for a flag. Maori chiefs chose a flag. On march 20th 1834, 25 chiefs gathered at Waitangi to choose a flag to represent NZ. A number of missonaries, settlers and the commanders of 10 British and 3 American ships wer in attendance. *refer to the above information* The Maori name for the United Tribes of NZ on the original Maori Declaration of Independence is 'KO TE WAKAMINENGA O NGA HAPU O NU TIRENI' from the original document that was signed.
rapihana productions
14 May 2010
at da beginning it was intended for ships bcos of murray..but no a days it used to sybolize the people,land ,sea etc...i think it should be used for everything from maori kaupapa to non maori..everyone should recognised this flag it part of new zealand history..
admin
08 Jul 2009
It was used on ships and on land - you can find our more about this here: http://www.mch.govt.nz/nzflag/history/united.html
nonymous
07 Jul 2009
my guestion is the flag a (flag of the sea?) such as ship flag or a flag of the land? mana mo tuhake

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