What is the significance of the New Zealand koru?
The New Zealand koru is a symbol you’ll see everywhere from the Air NZ logo and on tattoos to art galleries and maraes. So what does it mean?
Arguably the most important place that you’ll see a koru is while out in New Zealand’s great outdoors – perhaps on a nature tour from Auckland. The koru is a stylised symbol of a fern, which is one of the country’s most iconic plant species.
As a fern is a young and vibrant example of our flora, it has come to symbolise growth, strength, and new life. The word itself means ‘loop’ in Maori, and as the fern unfurls, it also has connotations with constant movement and growth, all the while remaining connected to one original point.
New Zealand is currently determining whether or not to change the national flag, and as part of that decision, the public were invited to vote on one of five flag options. While ultimately unsuccessful, one of those options used a simple yet beautiful black and white koru design.
You’ll often see the koru depicted in jewellery made in New Zealand – specifically that carved from pounamu (greensonte) or even bone. When given as a gift, the koru symbolises the start of a new relationship, or new phase in a relationship, as it suggests growth, harmony, and new beginnings.
There are approximately 80 fern species found in New Zealand that don’t exist anywhere else in the world, as well as more than 100 other fern species. They grow in damp forest areas and often take up much of the undergrowth in bushland. As New Zealand itself is a relatively young and ‘unfurling’ country, it’s no wonder that this beautiful example of our flora is such a fitting icon for the country.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist