Flying the Flag

Flying the Flag


The New Zealand Flag may be flown on any day of the year, usually during normal working hours, and in a variety of places.  Often, flag flying is observed on a 24hour basis but, unless it is floodlit there is little point in flying it at night as continuous flying, shortens the life of a flag, and it may have to be replaced more often.


Flags, and especially the New Zealand flag should never be flown in a dilapidated condition.


Days of National Commemoration

Flag flying is particularly encouraged on those days of the year designated days of national commemoration.  Those days are:


February 6

Accession of H.M. The Queen and Waitangi Day

March - 2nd Monday

Commonwealth Day

April 21

Birthday (actual) of H.M. The Queen

April 25


June - 1st Monday

Official Birthday of H.M. The Queen

June 2

Coronation Day

June 10

Birthday of H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh

August 4

Birthday of H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

October 4

United Nation Day

October - 4th Monday

Labour Day

November 14

Birthday of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales


ANZAC Day (25 April) is New Zealand’s national day for commemorating those who have served this country in times of war.  The New Zealand Flag should be flown at the top of the flagpole.  It is appropriate, however, at places where commemorative services are being held, for the flag to be lowered to half-mast, for the duration of a memorial service, as a sign of respect.


Other Official Occasions

The New Zealand Flag should also be flown to mark:-

  • The opening of Parliament (Wellington only) by the Queen or the Governor-General.
  • The Swearing in ceremony of the Governor-General designate and the state farewell for the outgoing Governor-General (Wellington Only).
  • Visits by the Royal Family and other distinguished people such as a Head of State of Government (only in the city or area being visited).


Other special occasions are recognised from time to time, for example, a royal birth, and are subject to special command by the Governor-General or direction of the Prime Minister.


Times of Mourning

Flags are flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning


The flag is half-masted by first raising it tot he top of the mast and then immediately lowering it slowly to the half-mast position.  The half-mast position will depend on the size of the flag and the length of the flagpole.  The flag must be lowered to a position recognisably “half-mast” to avoid the appearance of a flag which has accidentally fallen away from the top of the flagpole.  The flag should always be more than its own depth from the top of the flagpole.


On occasions when the New Zealand Flag is flown at half-mast, it is preferable that other flags should not be flown above it.  The Flag should be raised again to the top before being lowered for the day.


When house flags are flown at half mast, the New Zealand flag should continue to be flown at full mast. 


Flags on government buildings should be flown at half mast when directed by the Secretary for Internal Affairs.


For both government and public buildings, flags should be flown at half-mast during times of mourning for the following people and according to the following procedures:


The sovereign

From the announcement of death up to and including the day of the funeral (except on Proclamation Day, the day when the new sovereign is announced officially, when flags are to be flown from the top of the mast).

The Governor-General, former Governors-General, the Prime Minister, and former Prime Ministers


On the announcement of death and the day of the funeral.

Members of the Royal Family

On the day of the funeral subject to special command from the Queen or the Governor-General.

Commonwealth Governors-General, Commonwealth Prime Ministers in Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Heads of State



On the day of the funeral only



When local authorities wish to fly their flag at half-mast, as a sign of mourning following the death of a prominent local citizen, it is appropriate to do so on either the day or part of the day of the funeral.  The same etiquette applies to the house flag of a company or organisation.  In these cases the New Zealand Flag should remain at full mast.


Flagpole Seniority

When used, the New Zealand flag must be flown from the senior flagpole.  The senior flagpole is either the tallest (if different heights) or the left hand pole when looking at the building (when the poles are the same height). 

Commonwealth flags fly in alphabetical order from left to right, after the New Zealand flag.

House flags come to the left of National flags. ie with your back to the building, looking at the flagpoles

If two flags are flown from one flagpole, a National flag may be flown above the House flag, but NO two National flags should be flown together, - this indicates the top Country has defeated the lower Country on Battle.


Government Buildings

For those government buildings with flagpoles, the New Zealand Flag should be flown on a daily basis during normal weekday working hours and only in the weekend if the building is in use.


Diplomatic Posts

New Zealand’s diplomatic posts overseas, including the residence of Heads of Mission, should fly the New Zealand Flag on a daily basis. 


Naval Ships and Government Vessels

Commissioned Ships of the Royal New Zealand Navy fly the New Zealand Flag as a jack (that is at the bow) when anchored, secured to a buoy, moored, or tied to a wharf.  They also fly the New Zealand White Ensign at the stern.  Government vessels fly the New Zealand flag as an ensign (that is at the stern). 


Merchant Ships and Pleasure Craft

Merchant ships, pleasure boats, and yachts may fly the New Zealand Red Ensign. 



Both the New Zealand Flag and the New Zealand Civil Air Ensign may be flown on aircraft registered in New Zealand.  Airlines owning New Zealand aircraft, and the Civil Aviation Division of the Ministry of Transport, may fly the Ensign on their buildings as well as on their aircraft. 


Flags are one of the easiest ways of getting your organisation noticed, whether it’s your house logo, an industrial work, to welcome important visitors, to advertise your product or simply to say, we’re proud to be here. 

In New Zealand, flag flying protocol is not taken very seriously.  Unfortunately however, foreign visitors could take as an insult to something we in New Zealand considered minor or unimportant mistake.

The simple gesture of flying a visitors national flag, alongside the New Zealand flag can only impress most favourably.

Some organisations put up house flags and forget about them.  These flags tend to become part of the surroundings and are not effectively noticed by passers-by.  When this flag is exchanged or alternated with a country flag, the change is invariably quickly spotted.  Curiosity and interest are built up around the house flag so that it fulfils it’s purpose in creating prestige and advertising for the company flying it. 


Life of a flag - is determined largely by flag fabric and workmanship quality, weather conditions and flying time.  A quality flag flown continuously should last between eight an ten months.  Some flags may last in excess of eighteen months, others have been seen to last only three months.  Flags lasting only three months may be poor quality, flying in severe conditions, or striking objects, such as roofs, trees, or catching on a rough spot on the flagpole. 


In the absence of any laws regarding the flag flying, many exceptions to the above may be seen.