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.