The native Pohutukawa tree is renowned for its strength and is regarded by Maori as a chiefly tree. Its vibrant red flower (called "kahika", or leader) is the central focus of the flag - symbolising beauty and growth. Its flourishing stamens represent unity in diversity, reflecting the multicultural society of Aotearoa. The stylised circular form conveys notions of continuity and harmony.
The design also depicts the legend of Rangi and Papa (sky father and earth mother) who lay locked in a firm embrace, preventing light from entering the world. Tane (the god of forests and birds) managed to push his parents apart, shown here as the black panels at the top and bottom. The sun enters the space between them, illuminating the very first dawn - representing new beginnings and hope for the future.
The Kahika Dawn flag has been kept purposefully simple to create a minimalist, timeless quality. The bold, confident colour palette features our national colours of black and white, combined with red - for energy, passion and sacrifice. This is an important colour for Maori, indicating mana and status: fitting for a symbol of our nation.