Difference Between Australian Flag And New Zealand Flag


Without looking keenly, anyone can quickly arrive at a conclusion that both Australian and the New Zealand flags are similar. Indeed both Australian and New Zealand Flags have a blue background, and the symbols found in them are also very similar.

Both contain the Union Jack (flag of the United Kingdom) at the top left corner to symbolize their historical relation to the British. They too have a few stars around the flag. However, the reality is, the two flags are not the similar. In this article, get to understand the major differences between the Australian Flag and New Zealand flag, including their importance and symbolism

 Australian Flag

The flag was adopted on January 1, 1901 when Australia was federated. Australia’s first Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Sir Edmund Barton announced that Australia would have a public competition and citizens could send in their designs for the new flag. Over 30,000 designs were submitted, and 5 of them were almost exactly the same.

Those 5 were awarded equal first place, and shared the 200 pound prize money. The flag was originally called the Commonwealth Blue Ensign, and it was flown for the first time at the Exhibition building in Melbourne on September 3, 1901.

The flag of Australia, also known as the Australian Blue Ensign, is based on the British Blue Ensign—a blue field with the Union Jack in the upper hoist quarter—augmented with a large white seven-pointed star (the Commonwealth Star) and a representation of the Southern Cross constellation, made up of five white stars (one small five-pointed star and four, larger, seven-pointed stars).

The Commonwealth Star is the emblem of Australian Federation. Six points represent the states and the seventh all the federal territories which together constitute the nation, the Commonwealth of Australia.

The constellation of the Southern Cross indicates Australia’s geographical location in the southern hemisphere. This constellation of stars relate to the various indigenous legends and remind Australians of their rich and precious Aboriginal and Torres Strait heritage.

The Union Jack is the flag of Great Britain, and an obvious symbol of Australia’s connection to Great Britain. In other words, the Union Jack symbolizes Australia’s history as six British colonies and the principles upon which the Australian Federation is based, although a more historic view sees its inclusion in the design as demonstrating loyalty to the British Empire.

The three crosses, St George, St Andrew and St Patrick serve to represent the principles and ideals on which Australian nation was founded and is based on today; including parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech and the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

New Zealand Flag

The design of New Zealand’s national flag emerged over several years before being officially approved in 1902. Its origins date from 1865 when the British Government instructed that vessels from the colonies should fly the Blue Ensign with the seal or badge of the colony on it.

The flag of New Zealand, also known as the New Zealand Ensign, is based on the British maritime Blue Ensign – a blue field with the Union Jack in the canton or upper hoist corner – augmented or defaced with four red stars centered within four white stars, representing the Southern Cross constellation.

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 emphasize this country’s location in the South Pacific Ocean. The Union Jack in the first quarter recognizes New Zealand’s historical origins as a British colony and dominion.

The New Zealand flag is a rare example of a flag with colonial origins that, with only minor modifications, continued to represent the nation as it underwent substantial political developments.

For several decades there has been debate about changing the flag. In 2016, a two-stage binding referendum on a flag change took place with voting on the second final stage closing on 24 March. In this referendum, the country voted to keep the existing flag by 57% to 43%.

Australian vs New Zealand Flag: Key Differences

Adoption Australian flag was adopted on February 11, 1903.   New Zealand flag was adopted on March 24, 1902.  
Union Jack Australian flag has a blue field with the Union Jack in the canton or upper hoist quarter.   The New Zealand flag has a blue field with the Union Jack in the canton or upper hoist quarter.  
Number Of Stars The Australian flag has seven stars in total.   The New Zealand flag has four stars in total.  
Number Of Points On The Star & What They Represent Australian flag has a large seven-pointed star referred to as commonwealth star or the Federation star .The first six points represents the six federating units of Australia whereas the 7th point symbolizes the Papau and any other future territory.   The four star pattern on the New Zealand flag represents the Southern Cross, symbolizing New Zealand’s location in South Pacific Ocean.  
Southern Cross Australian flag has five white stars representing the Southern Cross in the half of the flag further from the staff.   The New Zealand flag has the Southern Cross portrayed with red stars with white boarders.  
Union Jack Union Jack of Australian Flag represents the historical origin of Australia as one Nation.   The union Jack in New Zealand flag represents New Zealand’s past association with the British Empire.  
Stars Except for one small star, the other six stars on the Australian Flag are seven pointed-stars.   The New Zealand flag’s four stars are five pointed-stars.  
Commonwealth Star Australian Flag features a large Commonwealth Star below the Union Flag representing the Symbol of Australia.   The New Zealand Flag does not have a Commonwealth star as is the case with the Australian Flag.  

Key Takeaways

  • Both Australia and New Zealand have the Southern Cross constellation emblazoned to the right of the Union Jack.
  • The New Zealand and Australian flags are a rare example of flags with colonial origins that, with only minor modifications, continued to represent the nation as it underwent substantial political developments.
  • The New Zealand flag carries the symbol of the United Kingdom located on the dark blue background, in the upper left quarter. It consists of four stars, each of which has five corners and is surrounded by thin white stripes.
  • The stars on the Flag represent the Southern Cross constellation, emphasising New Zealand’s location in the South Pacific Ocean. The Union Jack in the top left-hand corner of the Flag recognises New Zealand’s historical foundations as a former British colony and dominion.
  • The Australian flag has the Union Jack in the canton of a blue field displaying five white multipointed stars in the form of the Southern Cross constellation plus a seven-pointed “Commonwealth Star” (representing the six Australian states and the Northern Territory). The constellation of the Southern Cross indicates our geographical location in the southern hemisphere.
  • The Australian National Flag is Australia’s chief national symbol by law, custom and tradition, belonging equally to all Australian citizens.
  • The Australian National Flag takes precedence over all flags when flown in Australia or an Australian territory. It should not be flown in an inferior position to any other flag with the exception of the United Nations Flag on United Nations Day.