God Defend New Zealand Original Score and Lyrics
As New Zealand’s national anthem, sung at every official and sporting occasion, ‘God Defend New Zealand’ (composed in Dunedin and Lawrence, New Zealand) is one of our most powerful symbols of national identity.
Thomas Bracken, an Irish-born poet who emigrated to New Zealand in 1869, first published his lyrics in the Advertiser, the Dunedin newspaper he edited, in July 1876, at the same time announcing a contest for the best tune to accompany them. The winner was John Joseph Woods, a young schoolteacher in the Central Otago town of Lawrence.
In March 1878, when Sir George Grey, then Premier of New Zealand, visited Lawrence, he was welcomed by Woods conducting a choir of 800 schoolchildren singing God Defend. Grey’s enthusiasm for the song helped transform it from a local Otago success to a work of national significance