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New Zealand Air Force Flags

Last modified: 2016-05-21 by ian macdonald
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Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF)

[ Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign ] 1:2 image by Dean Thomas, 5 March 2004

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At air bases and public occasions, the Royal New Zealand Air Force flies a flag identical to the British Royal Air Force, a light blue ensign with a roundel of dark blue, white, and red concentric rings, from outside to inside, except that the R.N.Z.A.F. flag has the letters "NZ" in white on the innermost red disk. The roundel used on the aircraft themselves, however, replaces this innermost red disk with a red silhouette of a kiwi, the New Zealand national symbol, and omits the lettering. When entire flags are used on aircraft, usually in paint, the usual national flag is used.
Stuart Park, 18 December 1995, and Chris Griggs, 4 February 1999

The British, and probably therefore the New Zealand, air force ensigns have incorrect roundels. The roundel is 5/7ths of the fly width, with the rings having the following diameters: red 1/7th of fly, white 3/7ths of fly, blue 5/7ths of fly. The Canadian ensign also matches these specs, but has a Canadian national flag in the canton and a standard Canadian maple leaf where the red circle is.
Graham Bartram, 19 September 1999

The roundel on the RAF Ensign is in the centre of the fly, and its diameter is 11/12ths of the width of the flag. The diameter of the central red disc is 1/5th of the diameter of the roundel, and the width of the blue ring and of the white ring is, in each case, 1/5th of the diameter of the roundel. (From ADM 1/12493 in the Public Record Office.)
The roundel used on RNZAF aircraft has been changed four times. Until 1942 it was the same as the RAF roundel. Between 1942 and 1945 it was mainly blue/white/ blue, sometimes with white side-bands outlined in blue. In 1946 it reverted to the RAF type, but didn't change in 1947 when the red disc on the RAF roundel was enlarged. In 1960 a silver fern leaf was added to the red disc. I don't know when this was replaced by the red kiwi. Presumably later than 1967 since it is not shown in Bruce Robertson's, Aircraft Markings of the World 1912-1967 [rob67].
David Prothero, May 1999

In 1957 a scpecific New Zealand marking was devised, a white fern placed on the central red of the roundel. Because of remarks that this looked like a white feather it was soon changed to silver, but on aluminium aircraft this looked like worn paint. From 10 October 1970 the central red spot was replaced by a red kiwi. Recent low-visibility markings consist of simply a red kiwi on a blue disc.
Mark Sensen, 1 May 1999, quoting from [cos98]

The image of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Ensign [shown above] is not quite the same as the drawing of the flag that was submitted for approval in August 1939. There is a square full stop (period), as wide as the strokes of the letters, after the N and after the Z. The letters are still as large as possible within the red roundel and thus elongated and noticeably taller than they are wide. In the application the flag is described as, "the Ensign of the Royal Air Force defaced by
the addition of the letters N Z superimposed in white upon the red roundel of the ensign." [PRO document AIR 30/140]
David Prothero, 22 February 2001

Queen's Colour of the RNZAF

[ Queen's Colour of the RNZAF ] image located by Herman FMY, using components from images by Martin Grieve, Joe McMillan and Graeme Bartram, 20 February 2007

In an article published at the New Zealand Defence Force website on 25th August 2004, it was mentioned that the RNZAF will be receiving a new Queen's Colour on the 31st of the same month. The article highlights that it is the third Queen's Colour in RNZAF's history, the first being presented on 28th December 1953, during HM Queen Elizabeth II's visit to New Zealand.

No photograph or picture of the Colour is available but the article did give mention of its design at the end which reads,

"The Queen's Colour is of RAF blue; it has a border in a motif of fern leaves, a fringe, cord and tassels of mixed red and gold silk. It bears the Royal Cypher surmounted by the St. Edward crown in the centre, in the canton the Union and in the second quarter the four main stars of the Southern Cross in gold. The staff is 2.45 metres (8 feet 1 inch) in length surmounted by a crown and lion."

There isn't the mention of the NZ roundel on the Colour. Comparatively, I recall that the Royal Australian Air Force also once used a roundel-less Queen's Colour in its history.
Herman FMY, 10 May 2005

The fern leaf embroidery on the border can be seen in greater detail at a Ministry for Culture and Heritage photograph from the New Zealand Memorial in London dedication ceremony.
Herman FMY, 20 February 2007

Squadron Standards

Photographs suggest that the RNZAF Squadron Standard is not much different from that of the British Royal Air Force's. (see:

It has light blue field with the squadron emblem at the centre. Scrolls bearing battle honours are embroidered around the emblem. The standard has blue & gold fringes, cords & tassels and is attached to a staff with a gilt eagle as the finial. The border of the RNZAF Squadron Standard is embroidered with gold fern leaves I believe. The use of gold fern leaves departs from the practice of using British wreath; roses, thistles, leeks & shamrocks [see here] and the Australian version which includes wattle leaves as is apparent in their Squadron Standards.
Herman FMY, 11 May 2005

Air Force Roundel

[ Royal New Zealand Air Force Roundel ] [ Royal New Zealand Air Force Roundel ] both images by Sam Lockton, 3 October 2002

Depiction with left-facing kiwi
[ Differently reported Royal New Zealand Air Force Roundel ] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 March 2009

In this depction, the kiwi is facing the left side (visible) and has bowed down its head.
Source: David DONALD: Taschenhandbuch der Militärflugzeuge; ISBN: 3-89880-122-5; p.177
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 March 2009

Royal New Zealand Air Force logo flag

[ Royal New Zealand Air Force logo flag ] image by Clay Moss, 14 March 2010

The Royal New Zealand Air Force just sent our school a new RNZAF flag. Along with the flag was an insert showing a picture which I drew up. I also found the same image in a couple of places on the internet.
Clay Moss, 14 March 2010

It looks like it's used as something like an organisational flag. While for a paratrooper flying an air ensign might be somewhat justifiable, a century of planning has not produced airborne sailing ships. Thus, being unable to fly the air ensign, they'd need a different flag to represent the organisation they belong to.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 14 March 2010

In the Royal Air Force a similar flag, with the RAF roundel, is the flag of a Station Commander. Don't know when it is used because, as I understand it, Station Commanders fly their rank flag.
David Prothero, 14 March 2010

At in the Wikimedia Commons you can see the original image and more data about it: "A member of the RNZAF Parachute Training and Support Unit displays the air force flag during the air show at Whenuapai on the 21st of March 2009."
António Martins, 14 March 2010

In the recent contest for a new national flag, this flag was proposed by Amy Simmons from Manawatu-Wanganui, in whose opinion it would make an easily recognizable national flag, since the kiwi is unique to New Zealand and the overall design suggests an island country.
Source: New Zealand Government website:
Tomislav Todorovic, 29 April 2016