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New Zealand National Anthem


New Zealand National Anthem

New Zealand National Anthem

New Zealand has the rare distinction of being the world’s only country with two national anthems of the same importance: 'God Save The Queen' and 'God Defend New Zealand'. Both these anthems have beginnings which have sparked the fire of patriotism and yet were penned under very dissimilar situations.
Hayley Westenra sang 'God defend New Zealand' in the November Twickenham test with the All Blacks versus England.


The other NZ national anthem, 'God save the Queen', was likewise sung, and the All Blacks performed the “Ka mate”, a famous haka.


The Music Month of New Zealand would not be complete without considering a song that does not get a lot of endorsement on the radio. It is not a song that MTV directors are vying to get hold of. It is not listed on any of the greatest hits of New Zealand, even though New Zealanders have sung it for more than one hundred thirty years.

Although its tune is quickly recognized by every New Zealander, many of them cannot sing it properly.
New Zealanders are used to hearing this anthem prior to major events in sports such as All Black tests. But several of them are not aware that ‘God defend New Zealand’ is one of the country’s two official anthems.

The second national anthem, ‘God save the Queen’, harkens to New Zealand’s colonial past.

It was not until 1977 that ‘God defend New Zealand’ was raised to status of anthem and has become the favored anthem for New Zealanders both at in and outside the country.


‘God save the Queen’ is mostly played at formal ceremonies which involve the Queen, the royal family, or the Governor-General.


The practice in recent years has been for the anthem ‘God defend New Zealand’ which is called 'Aotearoa' in Maori to be rendered in both English and Maori to recognize the heritage of New Zealand which is bicultural. But this practice is relatively new.


God defend New Zealand’ was a Thomas Brackens poem which was put to music by a native of Lawrence in Central Otago named J.J. Woods in 1876. At the request of Sir George Grey, who had been Governor at the time, Thomas H. Smith (a Native Land Court Judge) made the first Maori translation of the song in 1878.

Nevertheless, even up to the ending decades of the 20th century the majority of New Zealanders knew only the English-language version of the song.

This state of affairs changed suddenly at the Rugby World Cup of 1999 in England. Prior to the All Blacks versus England match, Hinewehi Mohi sang ‘God defend New Zealand’ or 'Aotearaoa' purely in te reo Maori.
Many in the audience complained that this was not appropriate due to the inescapable fact that most New Zealanders could not understand or speak Maori. Mohi responded by saying that it appeared a perfectly natural thing to do.

National Anthem New Zealand

Growing support for the singing of ‘God defend New Zealand’ in both English and Maori soon occurred after this incident. A cause supported by the state, sporting organizations, and the Maori Language Commission encouraged the correct manner of singing the anthem with publicity and word sheets. There is currently widespread support for the English and Maori versions to be sung alongside each other.



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