In 1981, Parliament passed the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act, giving formal protection to flags, emblems and names of national significance. One of the more publicised sections at the time made it an offence to publicly display, destroy, or damage the New Zealand Flag in any manner with the intention of dishonouring it. This was of course the year of the Springbok tour.
Protected emblems include the Coat of Arms of Her Majesty or any other member of the Royal Family, the Seal of New Zealand, and the official stamp of any government department. Under the Act, it is an offence to use any of these emblems in a manner likely to cause any person to believe that he or she does so under the authority, sanction, approval, appointment, or patronage of the particular body.
Protected words include: “Anzac”, “Returned Services’ Association”, and “United Nations”. It is an offence to use these words in a manner likely to deceive or mislead any person (for example, into thinking that the person using the words is associated with the particular body when they are not), or in a manner otherwise prohibited by regulation.
A long-awaited 2013 amendment (section 18A) now also prevents the unauthorised use of emblems or words relating to the 28th Māori Battalion. The 28th Māori Battalion has received a great deal of positive recognition in recent years, including by way of its official, Government-approved website aimed at providing opportunities for veterans and whānau to share their recollections and taonga.
The recent amendment to the Act makes it an offence for anyone in business, trade, or occupation to use protected 28th Maori Battalion words or emblems in a manner likely to cause anyone to believe that such use is under the authority, sanction, approval, appointment, or patronage of the 28th Maori Battalion (NZ) Association Incorporated.
People who want to use the various emblems and names protected by the Act are encouraged to contact the appropriate controlling body or the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.