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New Zealand Herald of Arms Extraordinary

The Office

The office of New Zealand Herald of Arms Extraordinary to The Queen was established by Royal Warrant on 6 February 1978 and Mr Phillip O'Shea is the first appointee.  Until October 2004 he combined his duties with responsibilities as the Director of the (then) Honours Secretariat in the Cabinet Office.  As an Officer of Arms he acts, in accordance with custom, quite independently.  He was appointed by The Queen on the nomination of the Earl Marshal (Duke of Norfolk) in consultation with the Prime Minister of New Zealand.  He ranks among Her Majesty's Officers of Arms and is a Member of the Royal and Governor-General's Households.  For information on the College of Arms and heraldry, refer to the College of Arms homepage:


The Badge of the New Zealand Herald of Arms Extraordinary was assigned by Her Majesty The Queen on 12 June 1979. It is a complex Maori koru coloured in the traditional manner proper (white, red ochre and black) ensigned by a representation of the Royal Crown also proper. The design alludes to the three main duties of a herald (heraldic or armorial, genealogical and ceremonial) and the fact that the Herald is a personal officer of The Queen.


The general duties of the New Zealand Herald of Arms is to act as the formal channel of communication, and liaison, between New Zealand and that department of the Royal Household which looks after heraldic matters, the College of Arms in London. The duties fall into three categories:

  • Heraldic or Armorial:
    To advise the Crown in Right of New Zealand, the Government, Government Departments and New Zealand Defence Force on heraldic and certain allied matters; to liaise with the College of Arms in respect of the granting and confirmation of Coats of Arms, both personal and corporate, and to advise on technical aspects of distinctive New Zealand motifs which it is desired be incorporated in any grant;
  • Genealogical:
    To liaise with the College of Arms in matters relating to the research and registration of genealogies; and
  • Ceremonial:
    To attend The Queen or the Governor-General of New Zealand on such occasions as may from time to time be directed. This usually involves the Swearing-in of a new Governor-General, the State Opening of Parliament and investiture ceremonies.

The New Zealand Herald of Arms is New Zealand Deputy to Garter King of Arms and Deputy Inspector of Army, Naval and Air Force colours and badges. He represents the College of Arms and the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor in New Zealand. Since 1996 he has been Herald of The New Zealand Order of Merit.

Biographical Note

Mr Phillip O'Shea, CNZM, CVO, KStJ, is the first New Zealander to be appointed an Officer of Arms. He was born (1947) and educated in New Zealand. From 1974 to 2004 he was the Advisory, later Executive, Officer for Honours, and Director (2000-2004) of the (then) Honours Secretariat in the Cabinet Office. Since his retirement in October 2004 he has been a Specialist Advisor on Honours to the Honours Unit. He designed the insignia of The Queen's Service Order and associated Queen's Service Medal (1975), The Order of New Zealand (1987), The New Zealand Order of Merit (1996) and various other official decorations and medals. When undertaking official duties in New Zealand he wears morning dress. The insignia of office includes the Collar of Esses, the Royal Household Jewel, and a distinctive Baton. The tabard (of the Royal Arms) is worn only at ceremonial occasions in England.


Enquiries should be directed to:

Phillip O'Shea, Esq., CNZM, CVO
New Zealand Herald of Arms Extraordinary
c/- Executive Council Chambers
Parliament Buildings

Telephone: (04) 817 9745
Email: Phillip.O'

Last updated: 
Friday, 1 April 2011

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