A 17 November 1977 supplement to the New Zealand Gazette announced that the national anthems of New Zealand shall be the traditional anthem 'God Save the Queen' and 'God Defend New Zealand', thus granting equal status to both.
Following the accession of King Charles III to the throne in September 2022, the words have changed to ‘God Save The King’
Both anthems can be performed at the same occasion however God Save The King is generally used for occasions where His Majesty The King, a member of the Royal Family, or the Governor-General is officially present, or when loyalty to the Crown is emphasised.
God Defend New Zealand is appropriate when the national identity of New Zealand is the focus, even in association with a toast to His Majesty as King of New Zealand.
Using both anthems
You may use both anthems at the same occasion but usually the one that is most appropriate to the event is played or performed. Examples of where both are performed are occasions like the State Opening of Parliament, certain Government House receptions and church services, the national observance of Commonwealth Day and Anzac Day.
Performing English and Māori versions
There are no guidelines for performing God Defend New Zealand in both English and Māori, and you can choose which order to sing the versions in. When singing the first verse in Māori the practice is to repeat the verse in English.
You are allowed to arrange the anthems but you can’t change the words of God Defend New Zealand and God Save The King. Please forward new arrangements to us along with copyright details and a contact point for future reference.
There is no copyright restriction in relation to the use of the National Anthem – God Defend New Zealand. The rights to the anthem passed into the public domain in the 1980s. However copyright does apply to specific arrangements and recordings of the National Anthem, including the MP3s found on our sound files page. For commercial re-use, permission of the rights-holder will be required. Contact us if you have any copyright queries.
Performing foreign anthems
The precedence for when the New Zealand National Anthem and the Anthem from another country is being played at a function is that as the host country, New Zealand's anthem is played last.
To find out more about performing the national anthems contact us.
Updated on 11th May 2023