All Hail! Zealandia!
Zealandia was a familiar symbol to New Zealanders of the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. Akin to Great Britain’s Britannia and America’s Columbia, she personified New
Zealand in poetry, song, and political cartoons, and even appeared on postage
stamps and household goods. Her statue surmounts the Boer War memorial at Palmerston.
The depiction of Zealandia on the cover of the song ‘All Hail! Zealandia!’
emphasises the colony’s youth and agricultural wealth (which apparently
extended to the production of pineapples!). She carries the United Tribes
flag, selected as New Zealand’s first official ensign in 1834. Replaced by
the Union Flag in 1840, it became an important symbol of Māori
independence and resistance to Crown-perpetuated injustice. It also retained
some currency as a patriotic symbol, appearing on this sheet music more than
forty years after it fell from official use.
The first verse of the song proclaims:
All hail! Zealandia!
Queen of the Southern Isles
On whose bright destiny
Benignant Nature smiles
Louder than cannon’s roar
Echo from shore to shore
All hail! Zealandia!
Zealandia! All hail!
The music was composed by Robert Peel Crosbie, a Railways Department employee and
enthusiastic amateur musician from Christchurch. Francis Hopkins Valpy is
sometimes credited with the words, but Crosbie claimed to have written them
with Valpy’s assistance. The first performance took place at Lyttelton in
1871 or 1872, several years before the composition of ‘God Defend New
Zealand’. This makes ‘All Hail! Zealandia!’ one of New Zealand’s
earliest national songs.
An alternative setting by Dunedin music teacher Frederick Leech was published in
1874, and widely
performed during the following 20 or 30 years. Crosbie’s
original but less known version was eventually published in 1885 with a
dedication to former premier Sir Julius Vogel. A reviewer at the time
described the work as a stirring song of ‘eminently national type’ and
suggested that it should become immensely popular.
The piece was ‘uncommonly well printed’ by the Lyttelton Times Company,
although there is a spelling mistake on the cover for those who care to look
All Hail! Zealandia!Words and music by R.P. Crosbie
Christchurch: Lyttelton Times (printers), .
Compiled by David Murray, Assistant Archivist, Hocken Collections.
Source Hocken Blog