So how many people in New Zealand realise that we have two national anthems? I bet not a lot.
Everyone knows God Defend New Zealand/Aotearoa. Well, at least the first verse anyway.
There are actually five verses in total. You may have heard part of the third verse in the Royal New Zealand Navy ad.
The words to God Defend New Zealand/Aotearoa were written by Thomas Bracken back in the 1870s. These were then used in a competition to compose a national air (tune or song) for New Zealand, with John Joseph Woods, a teacher from Otago, winning with his now familiar composition.
It became our national song in 1940, but wasn’t adopted as one of our official national anthems until 1977! This was as a result of a petition to parliament the previous year.
Hinewehi Mohi sang God defend New Zealand/Aotearoa in te reo Māori only before the All Blacks versus England match at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, causing a huge public debate in New Zealand. Wow, I remember that. Some people were outraged and others said “about time”.
It just shows you how one person’s brave act can change history. Everyone now expects both languages to be sung. As it should be.
Our other national anthem is God Save the Queen. Yes, the British national anthem. I’m sure most New Zealanders wouldn’t know the words to this, but as a proud dual citizen – the child of a British parent, and with strong Loyalist Grandparents – I can belt this out. Well, verses 1 & 3, haha.
It is usually only used when Her Majesty The Queen, a member of the Royal Family, or the Governor-General is officially present, or when loyalty to the Crown is emphasised.
Or you could check out the following:
- Listen to God Defend New Zealand through Music Online (use at a library or enter your library card & password / PIN to access this resource).
- Listen to an audio clip of the United States Navy Band playing God Save the Queen
- 2011 documentary God Defend New Zealand from NZOnScreen.