[content_protector password=”running”]After the hype of the opening ceremony the match between Fiji and England proved to be worthy of a world cup opener. There were many highlights, the passion and determination of Fiji; England’s resilience and, in the end, dominant forward and back play.

However, for me there were greater highlights: the chanting, the singing and the national anthems. As I listened to the crowd’s rousing rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’, I was reminded of a comment my mother makes every time she hears anthems of other countries, “our national anthem is so boring,” and even (depending on her mood) “awful.”

Which got me thinking – is it? As New Zealanders we bellow out our anthem at national sporting events and our athletes, with varying success, do the same. Close-up camera shots capture our heroes with heads held high; fists over hearts and, sometimes, tears flowing. Such emotional responses cannot be elicited from something that is boring…surely not?

But what inspires such emotional responses? Is it a powerful rhetoric or a narrative that strikes at the very core of who we are as New Zealanders? Um…how would we know, we only every sing the first verse of our anthem. There are five verses to the New Zealand National anthem – yep, five!

Across America school students begin their school day with the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ in its entirety (which, incidentally, is four verses long):

Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

You certainly would not call this boring: “perilous fight… rocket’s red glare…bombs bursting.” However, this is imagery that occurs in many national anthems, even our own. Why is this? Nations are born out of civil strife. It is through the struggle for independence from an oppressive or foreign regime that true national pride and patriotism is forged. The rugby field is reminiscent of the battles many nations have emerged from – brothers in arms, a fight for supremacy, and an all-consuming passion for a single cause.

As non-All Blacks we are unable to defend out national pride on the field, but we do become ‘comrades in arms’, bound together and active participants in the battle through the singing of our national anthem. You, me, Richie – united!

A closer analysis of our anthem reveals to me what makes us so proud to be Kiwis:

Give us plenty, give us peace,
God defend our free land.

We are a nation of plenty and of peace and we have the freedom to be who we are. How lucky are we. Maybe our national anthem is not as boring, or awful, as my mother thinks.

What do you think?

By Rochelle Thorn


[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry amongst your students:  [/colored_box]  [colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:

1. Define nationalism and patriotism. What, if any, is the difference between the two terms?

2. Read all five verses of the New Zealand national anthem. Summarise the key points of each verse. Do these verses describe who we are as New Zealanders, and the country itself?

3. The anthem focuses on values that, apparently, our country is founded upon. What are these values? Are these values ‘alive and kicking’ in New Zealand. Are these values important to you as an individual?


[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:

1. In pairs or groups write your own national anthem (or verse). Consider how you can make it relevant to what represents you and your peers as New Zealanders.

2. Learn all five verses of the national anthem, and just like North American students, sing it at the beginning of each school day for the next week at the end of week discuss the following: Do you feel more patriotic or nationalistic because you sang the ‘God Save New Zealand’ everyday?


[/colored_box] [colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say: [socialpoll id=”[socialpoll id=”2296090″] [/colored_box]


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