Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An anthem of a mural

It's already been featured on a local real estate agent's blog, and pressures of commitments at the moment meant I didn't post this back on 16 November when I took the shots. But here it is, better late than never: the St Michaels Ave, Pt Chevalier, telly mural: God Defend New Zealand. A media mural used as a backdrop for a TV3 production which screened in October here, regarding the story behind our national anthem.

These media murals are forming a sub-species all their own, I think. See also the Federal Street work of art.

 Featuring John Joseph Woods (music) ...

... and Thomas Bracken (lyrics).

'God defend New Zealand' is rather a dreary dirge for a national song however, it will be ready if the Russians come.
Nelson Evening Mail 10 November 1877

We have received from Mr J. J. Woods a copy of the music and words of the National Anthem, "God Defend New Zealand." The words are by Mr Thomas Bracken, of Dunedin, and the music by Mr J. J. Woods, of Lawrence and the piece has been published by Messrs Hopwood and Crew, of Bond street, London. The anthem is so well known to most of our readers that it is not necessary for us to say a word in its praise. The title page of the copy before us has been beautifully illuminated, and in the centre is a good portrait of Mr T. Bracken. 
 Otago Witness 15 June 1878

There was a rival ...

A very successful rehearsal of the children who are to assist in singing Zealandia and God Defend New Zealand" was held yesterday afternoon. It is intended to request the audience to join in the ohorue of these anthems. 

Christchurch Star 11 October 1895 

Might have been "All Hail Zealandia!" as seen in this post on the Hocken blog. Here's another ...

Dear Percy Flage,—

Looking through an old music book just now I came across "New Zealand's National Song." I've never seen it before. The music has no composer and is an unknown melody to me. The words are as follows, and I wonder whether any of your readers can identify either words or music, and state how it came to be called the National Song, when "God Defend New Zealand" has that honour:— 

God girt her about with the surges
And winds of the masterless deep, 
Whose tumult uprouses and urges 
Quick billows to sparkle and leap: 
He fill'd from the life of their motion 
Her nostrils with breath of the sea, 
And gave her afar in the ocean, 
A citadel free! 


Evening Post 18 April 1945 


  1. Our national anthem has the word girt in it, 'Our home is girt by sea'. So far as I know, it has no meaning so it is interesting to see it in New Zealand's National Song.

  2. "Girt" does have a meaning, Andrew: to bind or encircle. "Girth" is a related word. So that sentence is quite descriptive -- Aussie is indeed encircled by the sea.

  3. This is excellent. What a thing to have on the back of a building. Who cares if it was for TV3 it looks great! We need more of it!

  4. Maybe some people in Australia know what girt means, but they never speak up and generally it is seen as a nonsense word, even by quite educated people. Thanks for the information. (I just knew I should have looked it up in the Oxford first)

  5. Hi, just passed this today, took a snap and looked it up noow wondering who the artist for the mural may be. Any idea?

    1. Artist is Gary Yong AKA Enforce 1 from Cut Collective

  6. No, but perhaps contacting TV3 might give you the answer?