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Coat of Arms by Charles Philippe de Thierry


Charles Philippe de Thierry’s design for a New Zealand Coat of Arms.

A letter sent to James Busby by de Thierry in October 1835 prompted the British Resident to call northern chiefs together to sign a Declaration of Independence. The eccentric Frenchman had declared that he was about to make himself sovereign in chief of a colony in New Zealand.

De Thierry had earlier tried to persuade the Dutch to make him viceroy of New Zealand. He had also declared himself king of Nuku Hiva, an island in the Marquesas group. De Thierry arrived at Hokianga in 1837 with 60 settlers from Sydney. Local Māori did not acknowledge his claims to have purchased land and were not interested in accepting him as their monarch. The colonists he had recruited rioted and left. Eventually the king-in-waiting moved to Auckland, where he made his living as a music teacher and piano tuner.

The image shows a coat of arms flanked by Māori warriors with taiaha and musket. The coat of arms is quartered, with tūī on New Zealand fuchsia (kōtukutuku) and lions, castles and chevrons; it is surmounted by a crown, and includes a motto in Latin and English (‘Tenax. Strength and harmony.’) The red wax seal has the same image stamped into it.


Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: A-320-026
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any reuse of this image.

How to cite this page

Coat of Arms by Charles Philippe de Thierry, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated