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Saluting the flag


Detailed images

Saluting the flag became popular during the South African War. In this photograph, the boys remove their hats as the whole school assembles to salute the flag. 

In 1902 the Blue Ensign formally became the New Zealand Flag. Three years later the government provided all schools with this flag, which was often used in tandem with the British flag to mark special dates and occasions. Most school buildings had a flagpole and for many children the school day began when they lined up to salute the flag before marching silently into the classroom to begin their lessons. 

During the First World War flag ceremonies became more important as a symbol of patriotism and pride. Most schools unfurled the flag on special days throughout the war and children were trained in flag drills, marching in formation and waving the flag. The School Journal regularly published patriotic flag songs which children were expected to learn and sing as the flag was hoisted:

Flag Song

Some flags are red or white or green,
And some are yellow too.
But the dear, dear flag that we love best,
Is the red and white and blue.
Then hail the flag, the bonny flag,
Of red and white and blue.

We love our native country’s flag,
To it our hearts are true.
Above we wave in splendid folds,
The red and white and blue.
Then hail the flag, the bonny flag,
Of red and white and blue.

School Journal, June 1914, p. 80


Auckland Libraries
Main image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, AWNS-19020814-1-3
Other image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, AWNS-19110706-14-4
Permission of Auckland Libraries Ngā Whare Mātauranga o Tāmaki Makaurau must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

How to cite this page

Saluting the flag, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated