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Historical Flags (Papua New Guinea)

Last modified: 2019-06-25 by ian macdonald
Keywords: papua new guinea | new guinea | kaiser-wilhelmsland | bismarck archipelago | bird of paradise | crown | ensign: blue | name |
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Papua New Guinea is made up of two former colonial territories:

Both territories were jointly administered by Australia since 1949, became a self-governing state on December 1st 1973 and independent on September 16th 1975. The western half of the island of New Guinea constitutes the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya. Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1981.
Santiago Dotor, 5 January 1999

The Territory of Papua was acquired by Queensland (against the express wishes of Whitehall) in 1884 following a scare that the Germans would be on our doorstep. Germany took the Territory of New Guinea the same year, headquartered in Rabaul. During this period the British exchanged Bougainville and Buka Islands (part of the Solomons) for some other German territory.

During World War One Australian troops captured New Guinea (the North-East quarter) and administered it under German law until 1921, when the League of Nations mandated it to Australia. Papua and New Guinea were administered separately until World War Two when the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) amalgamated the two Territories under military law. After the war the United Nations made New Guinea an Australian Protectorate, and both came under a common administration, until independence in 1972/3. A good book on the history is John Reid, The Hot Land.
Garry McKellar-James
, 12 September 2001

The Territory of Papua was the southern half of present day Papua New Guinea, and was first controlled by the British from 1884-1906, when it officially was transferred to Australian control.

The Territory of New Guinea was the northern half of present day Papua New Guinea and was first controlled by the Germans from 1885-1914/15, when Australian military forces took control. Australian control was officially recognised by the League of Nations as a Mandated Territory from 1920-42, Japanese invasion in early 1942. Australia regained control in 1944, and it became a United Nations Trust Territory in 1949, called Papua and New Guinea.

Between 1920-42 separate flags were approved by the British Colonial Office for use in each Territory:

  • Papua: Defaced British Blue Ensign with a white disc containing a coloured Crown and the word 'PAPUA' in black.
  • New Guinea: Defaced British Blue Ensign with a white disc containing a coloured Crown above the letters 'T.N.G.' in black.
Both of these flags appear on the Flags of Paradise 1996 chart, and my source was different editions of the British Admiralty's Drawings of the Flags in Use... by Various Nations 1907 and Flags, Badges and Arms of the British Dominions... 1932 for Papua, and Longueville (February 1996) for both Papua and New Guinea badges. Unfortunately, at the last stage of computer printing the crown disappeared from the Papuan Badge.
Ralph Bartlett, 18 November 2002

Timeline of Papua/New Guinea colonial ensigns

The sequence of Papua/New Guinea colonial ensigns was, to the best of my knowledge:-

British New Guinea. South-Eastern New Guinea.
1885 - 1888. Blue Ensign with a crown above N G on a white disc. South-eastern New Guinea while a British protectorate.
1888 – 1906. The Initials were changed to B N G when the territory became colony.
South-Eastern New Guinea as the Australian Territory of Papua.
1906 – 1942. Blue Ensign with a crown above PAPUA on a white disc. None made until 1908
1908 – 1942. Australian Blue Ensign with PAPUA on a white disc between the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross.
Both the above flags were authorised with, apparently, the Australian version gradually replacing the British version.
Customs 1909 - 1942/51 “Flag of the Territory of Papua with the addition of the letters H M C in black in bold character.” Said to have never been used.
Papua. 1920s & 30s? Red Ensign with a crown above PAPUA on a white disc. Flown as a courtesy flag by Peninsula & Orient Line ships.
Mandated Territory Of New Guinea. North-Eastern New Guinea.
1921 – 1942. T N G on a white disc. Possibly surrounded by a laurel wreath when used by the Administrator.
1928 - 1942/51. Customs. Australian Blue Ensign with T N G C on a white disc between the Commonwealth Star and the Southern Cross.
Papua / New Guinea. North-East and South-East New Guinea.
1951 - 1975 Customs. Australian National Flag with T P & N G C on a White Disc between Commonwealth Star and Southern Cross.

David Prothero, 26 September 2015

Mandated Territory of New Guinea. North-Eastern New Guinea

1924-1956 Quarantine Ensign. Same as Australian quarantine ensign. This Q-ensign was found in an old law book in 2016. Also two of the customs flags David lists have end dates of 1942/51. What this means is that both flags ceased being flown (if indeed they were being flown) in February 1942 but remained prescribed in the separate Customs Regulations until these were replaced by the unified Papua and New Guinea Customs Regulations in November 1951. In both cases the undefaced Australian Blue Ensign was reportedly flown for customs purposes post-war.
Jeff Thomson, 29 March 2019