Last modified: 2012-11-09 by ian macdonald
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image by Željko Heimer, 29 March 2003
Flag adopted 1st July 1971
The flag of PNG was introduced with Papua New Guinea Government Gazette
Extraordinary, Nr. 1, Port Moresby, 1st July 1971, pp. 3-4. The year of independence was 1975.
Mark Sensen, 5 December 1995, Christopher Southworth, 29 March 2003
The national flag has two triangles of red over black. The local kumul bird of paradise flies across the red half, symbolizing Papua New Guinea's emergence into nationhood. The five five-pointed stars of the Southern Cross constellation appear in the black, reflecting ties with Australia and other nations of the South Pacific. Black, red and yellow are also traditional colors in Papua New Guinea.
Nick Artimovich, 1 November 1996
According to Dorling Kindersley 1997 [udk97], "The flag was designed by a local art teacher, Susan Karike. The five stars also refer to a local legend about five sisters."
Ivan Sache, 31 December 1999
This flag was designed by
Susan Karike Huhume, Hahome or Hareho (who was, according to my source, 18
at the time) but it was adopted for the then "Territory of Papua New Guinea'
by National Identity Ordinance No. 41 of 1971 (dated 25 June 1971). The
Ordinance contained full construction details and was published in
"Government Gazette Extraordinary No. 1 of 1 July 1971.
The date of "16 September 1975" is that upon which full independence was achieved. Although as may be seen from the above, the flag predates this by several years.
Christopher Southworth, 20 January 2004
The Papua New Guinea Association of Australia (originally formed by retired
public servants from the territorial administrations), has a page with an
account from Geoff Littler, who was the Deputy Executive Officer of the House of
Assembly's Select Committee on Constitutional Development at
published for the 30th anniversary of independence in 2005.
The committee called for public submissions regarding the flag, and Mr. Holman, an artist with the Dept of Information and Extension Services, design a flag and emblem using the most popular colours and symbols - blue, gold, green, and birds, drums, spears and stars.
The flag, crest, and name 'Pagini' were presented to the House of Assembly on 17 November 1970 as a proposal which would be taken around the country for feedback. The symbolism of the flag was given as:
The BLUE represents the islands of our country and the sea, which surrounds them. The Cross lies above our whole country and guides our people in their travel on land and sea.The response to the flag was negative. Mr Littler says "Mostly they regarded the design as a mechanically contrived outcome designed by the Select Committee and not produced by a real person", and I think we can see what they meant. (Putting charges on the outer stripes and leaving the middle empty doesn't result in a unified flag.)
The GOLD represents the coastal areas of our country, its past and future mineral wealth and unity.
The GREEN represents the mainland and highland areas of our country and a Bird of Paradise, our unique bird, is turned towards the islands to represent one unified country.
The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags
and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag
designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for
their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm
version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the
official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC
believed the flag to be. For Papua New Guinea: PMS 186 red, 116 yellow and
black. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees
Ian Sumner, 11 October 2012
3:4 image by Željko Heimer, 21 January 2012
The flag construction details from Schedule 1 of the 1971 National Identity
Ordinance, were provided to me as scanned PNG Government Gazette Extraordinary
Nr. 1, 1971, by Chris Southworth. There the construction details are provided in
units equal to 96th of the flag length. At the time I reported it in 2003 the
same was (I believe) available at the link that I provided then at
http://www.paclii.org/pg/legis/consol_act/nia1971197/. This link now has the
National Identity Act 1971 (as it has in the meantime been renamed) consolidated
up to amendments by No. 97 of 2006, Sched. 1. The Wayback Machine at the web
archives has the
oldest copy of the page from 2005 with consolidated text as amended up to No 14 of 2000 (http://web.archive.org/web/20050714042745/http://www.paclii.org/pg/legis/consol_act/nia1971197/) both including amended Schedule 1 which determines the flag details using 100th flag length unit.
The otherwise meticulously annotated consolidated texts at the PACLII site do not include the annotation as when the change in this Schedule was made, possibly it was done by the National Identity (Amendment) Act 1996 (No. 20 of 1996) which made most of the changes in the Act (including the name change), but there were other amendments prior and after it.
The currently valid PNG legislation determines the flag construction differently from the 1971 Ordinance. Here is the new text:
SCHEDULE 1 – DESCRIPTION OF THE NATIONAL FLAG.
The Papua New Guinea National Flag is a rectangular flag, proportions four to three, divided diagonally from the top of the hoist to the bottom of the fly, the upper segment scarlet (Collies No. 305) overprinted on mid-yellow (Collies No. 537) charged with a mid-yellow (Collies No. 537) representation of a soaring Bird of Paradise, and the lower segment black (Collies No. 309) charged with five white five-pointed stars representing the Southern Cross. The descriptions and positions of the Bird of Paradise and the stars are as follows:–
Table 1—BIRD OF PARADISE.
Stylized, in silhouette, viewed from underneath with wings elevated and display plumes trailing, extending from the middle line parallel to the hoist. The Bird of Paradise shall be positioned so that, when a circle is positioned having a diameter of 34.5/100 of the length of the flag with its centre distant 67/100 of the length of the flag measured along the fly and 24/100 of the length down the hoist the parts of the Bird described in the table are in the positions shown and are on the perimeter of that circle.
Part of Bird.
Position measured from upper hoist corner, distances being fractions of length of flag.
Extremity of right wing: 50/100 along the fly and 27/100 down the hoist.
Extremity of left wing: 71/100 along the fly and 7/100 down the hoist.
Extremity of left display plumes: 84/100 along the fly and 27/100 down the hoist.
Cross-over point of elongated tail feathers: 83/100 along the fly and 33/100 down the hoist.
Extremities of elongated tail feathers: 74/100 along the fly and 40/100 down the hoist, and 76/100 along the fly and 45/100 down the hoist, respectively.
Table 2.—STARS OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS.
The Stars of Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta Crucis have an outer diameter of 10/100 of the length of the flag and an inner diameter of 4/100 of the length of the flag, and the star Epsilon Crucis has diameters one-half of those above described. The centre of the stars shall be positioned in accordance with the following table:–
Name of Star.
Position of centre measured from the upper hoist corner, distances being fractions of length of flag.
Alpha Crucis: 25/100 along the fly and 63/100 down the hoist.
Beta Crucis: 14/100 along the fly and 43/100 down the hoist.
Gamma Crucis: 25/100 along the fly and 28/100 down the hoist.
Delta Crucis: 35/100 along the fly and 42/100 down the hoist.
Epsilon Crucis: 30/100 along the fly and 52/100 down the hoist.
Željko Heimer, 21 January 2012
|Flag according to current specifications (2012)||Flag according to 1971 posted specifications|
|images by Željko Heimer, 21 January 2012, 29 March 2003|
The national Flag is described in the National Identity Ordinance 1971 as follows:
"The Papua New Guinea National Flag is a rectangular flag, proportions four to three divided diagonally from the top of the hoist to the bottom of the fly, the upper segment scarlet (Collies Number 305) overprinted on mid-yellow (Collies Number 537) charged with a mid-yellow (Collies Number 537) representation of a soaring Bird of Paradise, and the lower segment black (Collies Number 309) charged with five white five-pointed stars representing the Southern Cross).
The descriptions and positions of the Bird of Paradise and the stars are as follows:
Table 1. Bird of Paradise.
Table. (Position measured from upper hoist corner distances being fractions of the length.)
Stylized, in silhouette, viewed from underneath with wings elevated and display plumes trailing, extending from the middle line parallel to the hoist. The Bird of Paradise shall be positioned so that when a circle is positioned having a diameter of 32/96 of the length of the flag with its centre distant 64/96 of the length of the flag measured along the fly and 23/96 of the length down the hoist, the parts of the Bird described in the table are in the positions shown and are on the perimeter of that circle.
- Extremity of right wing: 48/96 along the fly and 26/96 down the hoist.
- Extremity of left wing: 68/96 along the fly and 7/96 down the hoist.
- Extremity of left display plumes: 81/96 along the fly and 26/96 down the hoist.
- Cross-over point of elongated tail fathers: 78/96 along the fly and 30/96 down the hoist.
Table 2. Stars of the Southern Cross.
(Position of centre measured from upper hoist corner distances being fractions of length of flag.)
The stars Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta Crucis have an outer diameter of 5/48 of the length of the flag and an inner diameter of 2/48 of the length of the flag and the star Epsilon Crucis has diameter one-half of that above described.
- Alpha Crucis: 24/96 along the fly and 60/96 down the hoist.
- Beta Crucis: 13/96 along the fly and 41/96 down the hoist.
- Gamma Crucis: 24/96 along the fly and 27/96 down the hoist.
- Delta Crucis: 17/96 along the fly and 20/96 down the hoist.
- Epsilon Crucis: 29/96 along the fly and 50/96 down the hoist.
Special Notice in Relation to Shipping.
In particular, the Papua New Guinea National Flag does not affect the use of the Red or Blue Ensign, which will continue to be flown as heretofore on ships.
Dated this first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and seventy-one.
L. W. Johnson, Administrator."
One should note that points of bird as described above can not fall on the circle defined above, this is especially noticeable for the third point falling more the 1 unit away from the circle. (The mathematics is very clear about this, but obviously the definitions are meant to be approximate anyway.) One should also note that the stars are defined by two diameters, not as pentagrams, but the difference is indeed minimal. (The distance of the point on the inner circle and the one that would be obtained on a pentagram is only about 0.9% of the outer circle diameter!)
3:4 image by Željko Heimer, 21 January 2012
The construction sheet is somewhat overcrowded, but it is a complex flag so it
can't be any simpler.
Željko Heimer, 29 March 2003
Looking carefully at the images from Smith 1980 [smi80], Dorling Kindersley 1997 [udk97] and Album des Pavillons [pie90], it appears that the top and bottom stars of the Crux Australis should be placed on an imaginary line strictly parallel to the hoist same geometric pattern as Samoa.
Concerning the two middle, horizontal stars, the right star is slightly shifted to the top of the flag in Dorling Kindersley 1997 [udk97]. In Album des Pavillons [pie90] it is not shifted at all but it is smaller. In Smith 1980 [smi80], the stars are of the same size and there is no shift. Who has an official depiction of this flag?
The colour specifications estimated by Album des Pavillons [pie90] are:
|Red||Pantone 186c||C 0 - M 90 - Y 80 - K 5|
|Yellow||Pantone 116c||C 0 - M 10 - Y 95 - K 0|
Pending the formal making of rules by the Administrator in Council, the
following rules should be observed.
All residents of Papua New Guinea may fly the National Flag with due dignity at all times. The National Flag shall be flown or used, either alone or, where appropriate, together with the Australian National Flag, the Australian Red Ensign, the Union Flag or a flag or ensign appointed under Section 5 of the Flag Act 1953-1954 of the Commonwealth, or any of them, for all official purposes of the Administration and on all occasions on which, and for all purposes for which, it is customary to fly or use a national flag or ensign.
Except for the official and personal purposes of the Administrator and for Commonwealth purposes, the National Flag may be flown or used alone, in the same manner that the Australian National Flag has been used to date. Where flown or used with the Australian National Flag, that flag must take precedence, that is to say-
(A) when flown on the same halyard the Australian National Flag should be at the peak.
(B) When flown or used in any other manner, the Australian National Flag should be on the right (i.e., On the left of a person facing the flag), slightly higher then the National Flag.However, it is desirable to avoid flying or using the two flags together.
Otherwise, no flag shall be given precedence over the National Flag. These rules do not affect the operation of any other rules regulating the flying or use of the United Nations Flag or any other flag or ensign referred to above. Any inquiries as to use of the National Flag should be made to the Department of the Administrator.
Željko Heimer, 29 March 2003
Album des Pavillons (2000) gives usage as
CSW/C--, i.e., not for use by government ships. If there was a need for a
blue ensign before 1975, wouldn't it be needed as the state ensign after that
date too? I presume that the pre-1975 blue ensign was replaced by the national
flag, so the usage would cover the state ensign, too.
Smith (1975) gives the usage as full CSW/CSW.
At the time there was no PNG naval ensign (I suppose there was no navy at
first), but at some time the white ensign was
introduced. Therefore the current usage of the national flag would be CSW/CS-.
Željko Heimer, 29 March 2003
Željko has provided a link to the (presumably) current version of the
National Identity Act at
http://www.paclii.org/pg/legis/consol_act/nia1971197/. The Act itself
allows the Head of State to appoint other flags and ensigns of Papua New
Guinea (Section 2), the Secretary to authorise the use of national flag,
flags and ensigns appointed under Section 2, and replicas or
representations of these with or without specified defacement (Section
3), and the Head of State to make rules concerning the use of the flag
Section 5 states "The National Flag shall be flown or used for all official purposes of the Government and on all occasions on which, and for all purposes for which, it is customary to fly or use a national flag or ensign." Section 6 creates offences for using a relevant flag without authorisation in a way that looks like there is authorisation, and for defacing or destroying the relevant flags "without lawful excuse".
The current version of the National Identity Regulation as at 25 November 2006, at PACLII http://www.paclii.org/pg/legis/consol_act/nir1973288/, creates an offence for using the national flag, a flag or ensign appointed under Section 2 of the National Identity Act, or any stylised copies or flags or ensigns with a close resemblance to these (with or without defacement) for a commercial purpose.
It also stipulates that applications for warrants under Section 3 should be made in writing to the head of department.
Jonathan Dixon, 9 May 2012
I checked Jane's Fighting Ships [jfs] on-line service. A photo of a landing craft shows the national flag flown as a jack.
Joseph McMillan, 4 October 2002
image from the Department of Defence of Papua New Guinea
The national emblem (not "coat of arms") is the
Bird of Paradise, Gerrus paradisaea.
Željko Heimer, 29 March 2003