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Encyclopedia > Coat of Arms of New Zealand

To the right is the Coat of Arms of New Zealand.


Until 1911, New Zealand used the same national coat of arms as the United Kingdom. Since being granted its own arms in 1911, New Zealand's arms have remained similar to the current design, with minor changes in 1956.


Since 1911, the central shield has remained unaltered: a quartered shield containing in the first quarter four stars representing the Southern Cross constellation, as depicted on the national flag, but with the stars in different proportions; in the second quarter, a golden fleece representing the farming industry; in the third, a wheat sheaf representing agriculture; and in the fourth, two hammers representing mining and industry. Over all this is a pale, a broad vertical strip, with three ships representing the importance of sea trade, and the immigrant nature of all New Zealanders.


The shield is supported by two figures, a blonde Pakeha (European) woman holding the New Zealand flag, and a Maori warrior holding a taiaha (Maori staff). The shield is topped with the St Edward's Crown, and beneath the shield are two fern leaves and a scroll bearing the words "New Zealand".


Prior to 1956

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The old–style coat of arms can be seen in the upper third of this window (click for detail)

Before 1956, the shield was identical, but the surrounding features were different. The crest was a demi-lion (the upper half of a rampant lion) holding the British Union Flag, and the scroll at the shield's base featured the then motto of the country, "Onward". Early renditions of the Coat of Arms are often featured with more stylised scrolling rather than fern leaves.


The original supporters were also slightly different. The woman had red hair, and both figures faced forward rather than towards the shield. Though there is no direct documentary evidence, it is likely that the original model for the woman was Wellington socialite Alice Spragg. The model for the Maori warrior is unknown.




 
 

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