South African War medal

South African War medal

The back of a 1900 medal commemorating the South African War. The edge of the medal reads 'Success to New Zealand Contingent 1899-1900'.

The flag depicted is a version of the Flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand chosen by northern Māori chiefs in 1834. (The current New Zealand Flag became our official flag in 1902.)

The front of the medal bears a portrait of Queen Victoria.

The use of the United Tribes flag on a medal presented to a soldier who fought in the South African War suggests that before the current flag was adopted, the United Tribes flag may have been used to represent a distinct New Zealand identity, separate from that of the British Empire as symbolised by the Union Jack.

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