Ditch the anthem?

Ditching the anthem is in the news.

Unfortunately it’s not the anthem we commonly use now, the dirge that asks a deity that has a poor record of defending people and countries to defend New Zealand.

It’s our other official anthem, the anthem that I used to have to stand to when I was a child. I remember reluctantly doing so at ‘the pictures’.

But also unfortunately, while God Save the Queen seems totally inappropriate for modern New Zealand, it’s not us considering ditching it as an anthem, it’s the British.

UK considers ditching anthem

British MPs have agreed to debate replacing England’s royalist anthem God Save the Queen.

The song is the national anthem of the United Kingdom and is played at sporting events where the four home nations – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – play as a team and when England competes separately.

Critics say another anthem for England would divide Britain by encouraging individual nationalisms, while supporters say it would re-establish the idea of four separate nations with separate identities.

If it’s good enough for the British to consider a more appropriate anthem in the modern world then it should be good enough for us to consider stopping clinging to an historical oddity.

Listening to the New Zealand anthem being sung isn’t as bad as it used to be now the Maori version is sung first, for some reason it sounds a lot better than the English version. It was written in 1878 but has only recently been used widely.

However when you see what it actually means…

E Ihowa Atua,
(Oh Lord, God)
O ngā iwi mātou rā,
(Of nations and of us too)
Āta whakarongona;
(Listen to us)
Me aroha noa
(Cherish us)
Kia hua ko te pai;
(Let goodness) flourish,
Kia tau tō atawhai;
(May your blessings flow)
Manaakitia mai

…then it could do with re-writing. Modern secular New Zealand should leave the god stuff to churches and those who believe in it (about half of us) and have an anthem that we can all feel some pride in.

UPDATE: Stuff have picked up on this and are running a poll: Today’s talking point: Time to change the anthem


Leave a comment


  1. “Modern secular New Zealand should leave the god stuff to churches”

    Yes, we could do this, if we were actually secular.
    Problem is, we’re not secular and our Parliament especially isn’t secular.
    Our Parliament is founded in the Christian church and retains significant semblances of it and, I suspect, affiliations with it. The church is a powerful modern day “lobby group”.

    “Like previous kings, Edward 1 called leading nobles and church leaders to discuss government matters, especially finance. A meeting in 1295 became known as the Model Parliament because it set the pattern for later Parliaments. The significant difference between the Model Parliament and the earlier Curia Regis was the addition of the Commons;” – Wiki


    On 15 June 2007 84% of our elected representatives voted to retain the Parliamentary prayer. Indeed, because people go into Parliament due to their belief systems, the retention of its [strong] Christian church element might be sufficient motivation for some [men] to become “Ministers”.


    Society is apparently less than 45% secular nowadays and the religiously non-affiliated won’t become a majority – at around 45.1% – until approx 2050 –

    “By 2050, Pew believes 45.1 per cent of New Zealand’s population will be unaffiliated – making it the largest group in the country. Only France (44.1 per cent) and the Netherlands (49.1 per cent) saw a similar projection, the centre said in its Future of World Religions study”


    What our National Anthem dirge is most in need of is a new, contemporary musical arrangement. Up the tempo, stress the secular words etc …

    God of NATIONS at thy FEET …

  2. Brown

     /  14th January 2016

    “The church is a powerful modern day “lobby group”.’

    Rubbish. The church today is irrelevant in politics and I cannot remember when a large denomination got really feisty over anything political. The mainstream English denominations are in free fall, the RC’s are declining but not quite so quickly and the alternative happy clapper styles who are not sure what they believe in beyond signs and wonders will fall away as soon as any persecution comes along. There is a requirement to embrace everything whether its nice or naughty and much of the church has gone along with that secular thinking – God is love and forgives everything, nothing is wrong and so on.

    I’d like to see the anthem change because it is obsolete and we should stop pretending that, as an increasingly secular and self centered nation, we believe God exists. Dump the Bible from oaths and courts as well – its use in that manner is not in accordance with scripture anyway. My JP friend tells me that lies are probably routine in oaths and he finds the swearer’s consistent lack of integrity depressing – an “oath” means nothing. We can swear on anything or nothing – no one cares.

    This will set Christians free to indulge themselves with gadgets and grow GDP rather than selflessly help others, encourage the unfortunates, sponsor children, run programs for orphans and provide free medical care in the world’s dumps. We will be so much better off when its all about us. History has shown us that secularism is just what we need – there’s nothing like having people that crave power in charge.

    If God exists, and I accept He does, things will get sorted whether we thumb our noses or not and despite us thinking we are in charge forever.

    • @ Brown – “Rubbish. The church today is irrelevant in politics”

      I understand you may be disappointed at the seeming level of secularism, but I only have to search “The Catholic Church in NZ” to come up with this –

      Bishops Conference Agencies
      Religious Orders
      Catholic Hospitals and Homes
      National Catholic Organisations
      Church Archives
      Catholic Social Justice Organisations
      Catholic Social Service Organisations

      Almost certainly the first, fourth, sixth and seventh lobby government, quite possibly the third as well. This is only one of several major church organisations in NZ.

      Given this, the religiosity of many “Ministers”, plus the Church foundations of Parliament – along with ‘Law’ itself – I think you are well represented.

      Lying under oath is nothing new.

      Your “selflessly help others” sounds kind of socialist to me, or is ‘charity’ an entirely different thing?

  3. Brown

     /  14th January 2016

    You have no idea what all these RC groups do (and neither do I but can guess at some) so your list is pointless. Possibly most will be service providers who just provide care rather than lobby. When there’s money at stake they may go along with the latest fad to get a slice (like the Salvation Army do with inequality and poverty and the Pope has stupidly done with climate change and Islamist refugees). That potentially makes them disingenuous and in error. I’m sure there’s plenty of other groups that do things outside their brief as well.

    Charity is far removed from socialism as the former is freely given to support specific needs looking to resolve issues and create a concept of accountability, irrespective of religious affiliation, while the latter sees governments take stuff at gun point and wastes much of it on friends and supporters with no expectations of a change for the better.

    I’m not represented in parliament and it is not the church’s role to be political although, over history, some individuals within churches have taken stands against political regimes like the Nazis and, gasp, against the Roman Catholics or other competing denominations who were overly political while pretending to be Christian (and were therefore in error).

    • Catholic and Anglican Church groups comment often enough in the media – a form of lobbying – to make me think they also lobby govt direct.

      I should have said “Democratic Socialism” or “Free Market Socialism” or “Libertarian Socialism”, or any other of a raft of socially responsible forms of government which would be freely elected (by our magical system of “democracy”, analagous to a wican herbalist living fearfully deep in the woods, while a doctoral scientist orbits the earth in the international space station)

      I read in the Northern News about Neighbourly.co.nz and AMI joining forces to give charities, NGOs, churches, schools and sports groups a chance to win shares of $15,000 in an online voting competition, with prizes of $1000 for the organisations receiving the most votes each week and weekly spot prizes of $100 for Neighbourly member voters.

      Tell me about charity not becoming a popularity contest again?

      Charity has been commodified like everything else. Neoliberalised. Privatised.

      Give-a-Litte and the like confirm it. Charity by Crowdsource Funding.
      Charity for the most appealing sorry tale. Fashionable or Pop Charity.
      Half of it is for medical treatment overseas or meds that aren’t available here because people won’t tolerate a tax increase, arguably the only viable way of paying for it?
      Oh no, not for their fellow human beings. Why should I pay for other peoples health care? Why should I pay to educate other people’s children?

      Insurance, right? Insurance is the answer. And this is what we’re trending towards.

      Charity no longer augments a caring, socially responsible society, charity increasingly compensates for its deficiencies and growing absence.
      Society is “us”. There’s only us!

  4. jamie

     /  14th January 2016

    “Listening to the New Zealand anthem being sung isn’t as bad as it used to be now the Maori version is sung first,”

    I was a bit skeptical when I first noticed this becoming the norm, but I agree it has given it a real lift. I like it a lot more than I used to.

    “for some reason it sounds a lot better than the English version.”

    I think it actually makes the English version sound better when it comes in. Together they work well.


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