National anthems of New Zealand

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The original sheet music for "God Defend New Zealand"

New Zealand has two official national anthems: "God Defend New Zealand" and "God Save the Queen". Legally they have equal status, but "God Defend New Zealand" is more commonly used, and is popularly referred to as the "national anthem".

"God Save the Queen" was the sole national anthem until 1977, but is now most often played only when the sovereign, Governor-General[1] or other member of the Royal Family is present, or on some occasions such as Anzac Day.[2]

"God Defend New Zealand" was written by Thomas Bracken in the 1870s, and in 1940 the New Zealand government bought the copyright and made it New Zealand's national hymn in time for that year's centennial celebrations. It was used at the British Empire Games from 1950 onward, and at the Olympics from 1972. Following the performance at the Munich games, a campaign began to have the song adopted as the national anthem.[1]

In 1976 a petition was presented to Parliament asking "God Defend New Zealand" to be made the national anthem.[3] With the permission of Queen Elizabeth II, it was gazetted as the country's second national anthem on 21 November 1977, on equal standing with "God Save the Queen".[3][4]

Some other Commonwealth realms such as Canada and Australia use "God Save the Queen", but unlike New Zealand, it is not the co-official national anthem in those countries. It is regarded as a "royal anthem", and is used only on monarchy-related occasions. However, the actual uses in those countries are similar to use in New Zealand because New Zealand uses "God Save the Queen" almost only on occasions associated with the monarchy now.

Other parts of the Realm of New Zealand[edit]

Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau and the Ross Dependency form the Realm of New Zealand along with New Zealand proper and most have separate anthems.

"Te Atua Mou E" and "Ko e Iki he Lagi" are anthems of Cook Islands and Niue, respectively. Tokelau uses "God Save the Queen" as its sole national anthem. The Ross Dependency uses the national anthems of New Zealand.


  1. ^ a b Max Cryer. "Hear Our Voices, We Entreat: The Extraordinary Story of New Zealand’s National Anthems". Exisle Publishing. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "National anthems: Protocols". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "National anthems: History of God Defend New Zealand". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  4. ^ "Announcement of the adoption of national anthems for New Zealand" (PDF). Supplement to the New Zealand Gazette of Thursday, 17 November 1977. 21 November 1977. Retrieved 15 August 2015.