New Zealand’s National Anthem is, by all measures, a religious song. What else would you expect from a song called “God Defend New Zealand”? The English verse references the “God of Nations” and asks God to “defend our free land.”
But with more than 40% of the population reporting that they have no religious affiliation, and fewer than half the population declaring a Christian one, what use is a religious anthem that doesn’t apply to everyone?
That’s why 92-year-old Bill Wollerman set out to write a secular anthem that would work for the entire nation.
“I believe our national anthem should inform the world about our beliefs, behaviour, aspirations, the culture of our society — not largely laud its landscape, or its monarchy or its military prowess,” Wollerman says.
In canvassing feedback on his new version — with the working title Forge Ahead New Zealand — one respondent said: God Defend New Zealand largely appeals for divine intervention to defend and protect us — appropriate in pioneering Victorian 1876, but not in today’s cosmopolitan, educated society,” — sentiments Wollerman agrees with.
“It’s not anti-religion — quite the reverse — but, if we believe in equality of status, no favouritism, and a level playing field for all beliefs, institutions and positions then our anthem should be secular.”
Wollerman’s version celebrates “every creed and every race, gathered here in freedom’s place.”
It’s not like there’s a move by the government to adopt his version of the song. It’s merely a suggestion. But it’s not a bad idea. After all, what good is an anthem if many of the people singing it no longer identify with its lyrics?
(Thanks to Stephen for the link)