New Zealand icon: Silver fern

The silver fern (Cyathea dealbata) has come to embody the spirit of New Zealand.

According to Māori legend, the silver fern once lived in the sea. It was asked to come and live in the forest to play a significant role in guiding the Māori people.

Māori hunters and warriors used the silver underside of the fern leaves to find their way home. When bent over, the fronds would catch the moonlight and illuminate a path through the forest.

This distinctly New Zealand symbol is considered a badge of honour by the people, products and services of our country that carry it.

It has been the symbol of New Zealand’s national rugby team since the 1880s and is now proudly worn by all our top athletes and prominently carried by many of our top companies.

Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have adopted the silver fern as the country of origin symbol for New Zealand. It is used in the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign, in all international trade promotions and as the mark of quality assurance, or Qualmark, for the tourism industry.

More information

Aotearoa - New Zealand's unique Maori culture

Introduction to Māori culture

Māori and tourism

Māoritanga - Māori culture explained

The haka: New Zealand icon

Tā moko

Māori connection to land and sea

The Māori marae

A new era: the Māori renaissance

The Treaty of Waitangi