The New Zealand flag is the symbol of the realm, government and people of New Zealand. Its royal blue background is derived from the ensign of the Blue Squadron of the Royal Navy. The stars of the Southern Cross emphasise this country's location in the South Pacific Ocean. The Union Jack in the first quarter recognises New Zealand's historical origins as a British colony and dominion.
The New Zealand flag hasn't always been our official flag. It was adopted in 1902 amidst the pomp and patriotism of the South African War. For six decades before that, the Union Jack fluttered from New Zealand's flagpoles. But even that wasn't our first flag. Between 1834 and 1840, the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand was recognised as the first 'national' flag of these islands.
New Zealand has a number of other official flags, including the maritime red and white ensigns and flags symbolising the Queen and the Governor-General. Waitangi Day 2010 saw the first official recognition of the national Māori flag, which flew alongside the New Zealand flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Parliament, the Beehive, and other government buildings.
In 2016 New Zealanders will for the first time vote in a referendum on their flag. They will choose between the current New Zealand flag and the most popular choice from among four options put forward by a cross-party committee in 2015.