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The Tino Rangatiratanga flag is a powerful symbol of Māori identity and self-determination. Designed by Linda Munn, Hiraina Marsden and Jan Smith in 1989, the flag embodies the kaupapa (movement) for the betterment of Māori culture and traditions.


In 1989 the idea of Māori being able to fly their own Kara (flag), was inspired by the First nations of Australia, who had flown their own sovereign flag since 1974. Te Kawariki ran a flag competition, from which the Tino Rangatiratanga Kara was born - it is of a kaupapa, a movement for the betterment of Māoridom.



Black represents Te Korekore the realm of Potential Being. It represents the long darkness, from whence the world emerged. It represents the heavens, the male element is formless, floating and passive.

White represents Te Ao Marama, the realm of Being and Light. It is the Physical World. White symbolises purity, harmony, enlightenment, balance and air rising.

The Koru, curling frond shape, represents the unfolding of new life, that everything is reborn and continues. It promises renewal and hope for the future.

The design can also be interpreted as a white cloud mass over Aotearoa.

Red represents Te Whei Ao, the realm of Coming into Being. It symbolises female, active, flashing, south, yelling, emergence, forests, land, gestation and spirals. Red is Papatuanuku, Earth Mother, the sustainer of all living things. Red is the colour of earth from which the first human was made.

The design represents the balance of natural forces with each other. To live life is to live with nature. To appreciate life is to understand nature.

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