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God Defend New Zealand

God Defend New Zealand is one of the national anthems of New Zealand, together with God Save the Queen. Although they both have equal status, in the absence of the Queen or a member of the Royal family only God Defend New Zealand is used, and most New Zealanders would be unaware that the country has two national anthems. Hence, usage is practically the same as in countries such as Canada where God Save the Queen is designated the royal anthem. The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage has responsibility for the national anthems.


The words for God Defend New Zealand were written as a poem in the 1870s by Thomas Bracken. A competition to compose music for the poem was held in 1876, with a prize of ten guineas. The winner of the competition was John Joseph Woods, who had composed the melody in a single sitting the evening after finding out about the competition.

The song became increasingly popular during the 19th century and early 20th century, and in 1940, the New Zealand government bought the copyright and made it New Zealand's national hymn in time for the centennial celebrations. In 1976, a petition was presented to parliament asking for it to be made the national anthem, and with the permission of Queen Elizabeth II, it became the country's second national anthem on November 21, 1977.

An alternative official arrangement for massed singing by Maxwell Fernie was announced by the Minister of Internal Affairs on June 1, 1978.


God Defend New Zealand has five verses, each in English and translated into Māori. Commonly, only the first verse is sung, either in English or in Māori, followed by the same verse in the other language. The second verse may also be sung, but the last three are rarely used.

God Defend New Zealand

God 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.

Copyright on the English lyrics for God Defend New Zealand expired in 1948, 50 years after the death of the author. Translated Maori lyrics were commissioned in 1979, and are under New Zealand Crown copyright until 2079. The words and style published here were supplied by and with the permission of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Te Manatu Taonga.

Maori Version

E Ihoä Atua,
O ngä Iwi! Mätourä,
Äta whaka rongona;
Me aroha noa.
Kia hua ko te pai;
Kia tau tö atawhai;
Manaakitia mai

Öna mano tangata
Kiri whero, kiri mä,
Iwi Mäori Päkehä,
Repeke katoa,
Nei ka tono ko ngä hë
Mäu e whakaahu kë,
Kia ora märire

Töna mana kia tü!
Töna kaha kia ü;
Töna rongo hei pakü
Ki te ao katoa
Aua rawa ngä whawhai
Ngä tutü a tata mai;
Kia tupu nui ai

Waiha tona takiwä
Ko te ao märama;
Kia whiti töna rä
Taiäwhio noa.
Ko te hae me te ngangau
Meinga kia kore kau;
Waiho i te rongo mau

Töna pai me toitü;
Tika rawa, pono pü;
Töna noho, tana tü;
Iwi nö Ihoä.
Kaua möna whakamä;
Kia hau te ingoa;
Kia tü hei tauira;

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