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Papua New Guinea

Papua Niugini, Independent State of Papua New Guinea

Last modified: 2008-08-09 by ian macdonald
Keywords: papua new guinea | papua niugini | new guinea | southern cross | bird of paradise | triangle: bottom hoist (black) | triangle: top fly (red) | pacific community |
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[Papua New Guinea] 3:4 image by Željko Heimer, 29 March 2003
Flag adopted 1st July 1971

See also:


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

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
Ivan Sache, 31 December 1999

My image of the national flag is closely based on Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00].
Željko Heimer, 3 October 2002

Constructions details

[Papua New Guinea construction sheet] 3:4 image by Željko Heimer, 3 October 2002

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.)

  • 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.
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.

Table 2. Stars of the Southern Cross.
(Position of centre measured from upper hoist corner distances being fractions of length of flag.)
  • 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.
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.

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!)
The construction sheet is somewhat overcrowded, but it is a complex flag so it can't be any simpler.


Željko Heimer, 29 March 2003

Use of the National Flag

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

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

National Emblem

[Papua New Guinea COA] 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