Calls for the New Zealand national anthem to be given a revamp have proven to be off-key with Herald readers.

A resounding 73 per cent of people who voted in a Herald online poll about changing the national anthem want it to stay the same.

Only 24 per cent thought it was time to change the lyrics and three per cent said they didn't know.

The poll ran with a story about whether the English version of God Defend New Zealand was outdated with verses including "triple star", "shafts of war" and "entreat".


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According to Hobsonville woman Fiona Downes, who wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last year saying the anthem has outdated language, the lyrics are "acrane".

Downes said the words in the first verse were meaningless to many migrants with limited English, as well as most New Zealanders under the age of 30.

Ardern agreed. She told Downes the "language is certainly a product of its time", and advised that change "could evolve if enough people supported it".

Downes also said she believed more people would be able to relate to "the simple and direct words of the second verse" which has inclusive theme. It reads:

Men of every creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our free land.
From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our state,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.

Though "Men of every creed and race" should be replaced with "Those of every creed and race".

She suggested the anthem's first verse could be replaced by the second in time for the one year anniversary of the March 15 terror attacks in Christchurch.


"It suddenly occurred to me," she wrote, "that a marvellous memorial gesture at the time of commemorating the event next March would be to announce that the second verse would be used henceforth, following the Māori first verse, as our national anthem, instead of the old first verse".

Ardern, in her November reply as Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, agreed the wording of the second verse "holds particular significance in the wake of the March 15 attacks".

"The attack on our Muslim community has had a profound effect on our nation," she said, and "the Government is giving careful consideration to strategies for promoting inclusiveness and respect for diversity".

But if the Herald's poll is an indication of sentiment, then Kiwis don't appear to want anyone messing with their anthem.

The non-scientific poll asked: "Do you think it's time to change the national anthem?"

Seven per cent said: "Yes, and I like the second verse" and 17 per cent said: "Yes, but to something totally different".

But 73 per cent answered: "No, the anthem is good as it is," and three per cent said they didn't know.