NZ FLAG FACT NUMBER 67
Before the silver fern represented national sports teams, the military and New Zealand produce on the world stage, people of Victorian England were extremely keen on collecting plants from different parts of the planet. As such, many fern varieties, including the silver fern, ended up in England. New Zealanders Eric Craig and Thomas Cranwell took advantage of this fad and produced pressed fern albums for sale in both New Zealand and overseas, while H. B. Doobie produced cyanotype images of 148 New Zealand ferns that were published in book form.
When, at Gallipoli in 1915, New Zealand soldier Raymond Baker was wounded, an Australian stretcher bearer recognised where he was from because of his silver fern. “Hello mate?’ he said. ‘Pig Islander? Which is the soldiers’ colloquial for New Zealander.
In 2010 columnist Jim Eagles wrote in the New Zealand Herald: ‘But if you want to signal your nationality, whether visiting Britain or Botswana, China or Chile, a silver fern is the best way to do it.’ Meanwhile, in their book New Zealand! New Zealand! In Praise of Kiwiana, Stephen Barnett and Richard Wolfe claimed that the silver fern was just as well known as the kiwi to people from overseas.
From New Zealand Flag Facts by historian Malcolm Mulholland. Read more at: