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Musical score for God Defend New Zealand

The following is an announcement of alternative arrangements of God Defend New Zealand, for general use.

Source: the Supplement to the New Zealand Gazette, Thursday, 31 May 1979.

Recognising the difficulties which could be experienced in the singing or playing of the national anthem God Defend New Zealand by the general public, new arrangements of this anthem have been commissioned from Mr A Maxwell Fernie.

The original score composed in 1875 by Mr J. J. Woods in A flat (concert pitch) lent itself best to solo or choral singing but was not most appropriate for general or massed singing, bearing present tastes in music in mind.

The new arrangements allow for a strong presentation at a reasonable pace. One is more suitable for massed singing, the other for choral work.

The commissioning and publication of these arrangements is intended to enhance the presentation of the national anthem for general purposes. They should not be regarded as the only arrangements suitable for all occasions.

D A Highet,
Minister of Internal Affairs.

This page notes that the recommended key for massed singing is G major, and that the National Anthem should be performed at a tempo of 108 beats per minute (bpm). Our sound files page provides audio files in a range of keys and tempos, and some modulate up between the verses in Māori and English.

Many people find that a lower key (C or D) is easier to sing along with.  Performers also have the option of modulating up from the verse in te Reo Māori to the verse in English. Either a semi-tone or a whole tone shift is suitable.

To assist users who wish to have a backing track in their choice of suitable key, the Ministry has provided a recording of the 1979 arrangement of the piano score. This can be accessed here in any key, and this solo piano arrangement modulates up by a semi-tone between the two recorded verses. This version was performed at a tempo of 96 bpm

Guitar chords

Here is a musical score for God Defend New Zealand for the guitar in G major.

Click here for a larger version of the above music score.

Download the official musical score

The following first score has been scanned directly from the New Zealand Gazette.



Updated on 30th November 2017