The flag retains a stylised Southern Cross, an historic symbol of navigation for successive waves of immigrants and so represents all peoples who have settled here. The stars remain red because among the nations whose flags show the Southern Cross, only New Zealand's has red stars. The blue background represents the sea and sky. The fern stands for our flora, fauna and the long white cloud. The fern also represents new life and growth, rising with confidence and pointing to the future. Green represents Aotearoa/New Zealand, the land, hills and mountains, as well as Pounamu, our precious greenstone. Green also highlights our aspiration to sustainability and looking after our land and heritage. The stylised Southern Cross and the azure blue are based upon the first quarter of the current New Zealand Coat of Arms.