Home > About New Zealand > New Zealand Trivia > The National Anthem

The National Anthem

Did you know that there are two New Zealand national anthems? Well, there are: ‘God Save the Queen’, and ‘God Defend New Zealand’. Since 1977, both anthems have equal status and are sometimes performed together at the same event (like the State Opening of Parliament, Commonwealth Day, and Anzac Day). But generally, ‘God Defend New Zealand’ is the only anthem used and it’s the one you’re most likely to hear during your campervan rental holiday in New Zealand (particularly if you’re lucky enough to attend an All Blacks rugby game!).

God Save the Queen

God Save the Queen 

  1. God save our gracious Queen,
    Long live our noble Queen,
    God save The Queen.
    Send her victorious,
    Happy and glorious,
    Long to reign over us:
    God save The Queen.
  2. O Lord our God, arise,
    Scatter our enemies,
    And make them fall;
    Confound their politics,
    Frustrate their knavish tricks;
    On thee our hopes we fix:
    God save us all.
  3. Thy choicest gifts in store
    On her be pleased to pour,
    Long may she reign.
    May she defend our laws,
    And ever give us cause
    To sing with heart and voice,
    God save The Queen.


‘God Save the Queen’ was the first New Zealand national anthem. It has been in use since 1840.

Most of the time, only the first verse of this anthem is sung, but if more are to be sung in New Zealand, the second and third verses are often replaced by one especially written for Commonwealth Day. It gives recognition to all the nations of the Commonwealth:

Not on this land alone
But be God’s mercies known
From shore to shore.
Lord, make the nations see
That we in liberty
Should form one family
The wide world o’er.

God Defend New Zealand

The second New Zealand national anthem is God Defend New Zealand(click on the link to listen to it). It dates from 1870, when it was written as a poem by Thomas Bracken. It is not 100% clear what Bracken was referring to when we wrote the words ‘Pacific’s triple star’ in the first verse of this poem. Some say he was referring to the three biggest islands of New Zealand (the North Island, the South Island, and Stewart Island), while others say he may have been referring to Alpha Centarui, the brightest triple-star system in the southern constellation of Centaurus. And there are also people who say that these words refer to the three stars on the Speight’s beer logo!

The music of ‘God Defend New Zealand’ was composed in 1876, as a result of a competition organized by the Dunedin Saturday Advertiser. Joseph Woods, a teacher at the Roman Catholic School of Lawrence, won the prize for his composition: ten guineas! On Christmas Day, 1876, the song was first performed in public, in Dunedin’s Queen’s Theatre.

‘God Defend New Zealand’ became increasingly popular, and in 1940 the government decided to buy the copyright to the song from a Dunedin musical firm. In 1976, more than thirty years later, a petition was presented to parliament to ask if the song could be made the New Zealand national anthem. Queen Elizabeth II gave her permission, and on 21 November 1977 ‘God Defend New Zealand’ was officially elevated to the status of national anthem, while the status of ‘God Save the Queen’ as national anthem was confirmed at the same time.

Though Thomas Brackens poem was in English, there are also Maori translations of this New Zealand national anthem. The most recent edition (the one published on this page) is by former Maori Language Commissioner, Prof. Timoti S. Käretu. Generally, only the first verse is sung, first in Maori and then in English, or vice versa. Sometimes the second and last verses are also sung, but the other ones are rarely used.

God Defend New ZealandGod of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific’s triple star,
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.Men of ev’ry creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our free land.
From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our State,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.

Peace, not war, shall be our boast,
But, should foes assail our coast,
Make us then a mighty host,
God defend our free land.
Lord of battles, in Thy might,
Put our enemies to flight,
Let our cause be just and right,
God defend New Zealand.

Let our love for Thee increase,
May Thy blessings never cease,
Give us plenty, give us peace,
God defend our free land.
From dishonour and from shame,
Guard our country’s spotless name,
Crown her with immortal fame,
God defend New Zealand.

May our mountains ever be
Freedom’s ramparts on the sea,
Make us faithful unto thee,
God defend our free land.
Guide her in the nations’ van,
Preaching love and truth to man,
Working out Thy Glorious plan,
God defend New Zealand.

Maori TranslationE Ihowa Atua,
O nga iwi matou ra
Ata whakarongona;
Me aroha noa
Kia hua ko te pai;
Kia tau to atawhai;
Manaakitia mai
AotearoaOna mano tangata
Kiri whero, kiri ma,
Iwi Maori Pakeha,
Rupeke katoa,
Nei ka tono ko nga he
Mau e whakaahu ke,
Kia ora marire

Tona mana kia tu!
Tona kaha kia u;
Tona rongo hei paku
Ki te ao katoa
Aua rawa nga whawhai
Nga tutu a tata mai;
Kia tupu nui ai

Waiho tona takiwa
Ko te ao marama;
Kia whiti tona ra
Taiawhio noa.
Ko te hae me te ngangau
Meinga kia kore kau;
Waiho i te rongo mau

Tona pai me toitu
Tika rawa, pono pu;
Tona noho, tana tu;
Iwi no Ihowa.
Kaua mona whakama;
Kia hau te ingoa;
Kia tu hei tauira;


Home Sitemap Contact