THE NEW HEBRIDES / NOUVELLES HEBRIDES, AN ARCHIPELAGO IN THE PACI-fic, also comprised the Banks- and Torres Islands. The largest island is Espiritu Santo on which is a mountain of the same name (1811 m). Capital: Port Vila.

By  treaties of  1906 and 1914-’22 the archipelago became a French-British condominium. It was administrated by twelve British Resident Commisioners from 1902 until 1980 and by twenty eight French Resident Commisioners from 1901 until 1980. [1]


On 30 July 1980 a sovereign republic was proclaimed with the name “Ripablik blong Vanuatu”. The name “Vanuatu” is composed of the words vanua = land and atu = independent, from the local bislama language.


The badge of the British Resident Commissioner showed the British royal crown and later the Imperial State Crown, accompanied by the words NEW HEBRIDES and encircled by a garland. This badge was displayed on the Union Jack.


In the time when the archipelago was administered by a French Naval Commission (1887-1901) a shield with an anchor per pale is seen on stamps of the Nouvelles Hebrides.

On coins issued in the last years of the Condomium there is the head of Marianne, symbolizing the sovereignty of the French people. In its last year coins were struck with two palmleaves in saltire and a pig’s tusk on a pole as an emblem. This emblem symbolizes the great economic importance of the coconut palm (namwele in bislama language) and the importance of the pig in local culture.


In a slightly changed form the leaves-and-tusk emblem was adopted by the republic. It was placed on the flag and is the main element of the National Emblem.


The constitution of Vanuatu stipulates that the territory of the archipelago is the property of the indigeneous people (even when the 3 % Europeans possess more than a third of it). This is symbolized in the national emblem by a Melanesian Chief, standing on the island of Espiritu Santo. [2]


Early emblems


5 c. ½D stamp, 1925, english text, 1911 design


An exposition of emblems in use on the New Hebrides in the early years of the condominium can be found on a stamp issued 1911 and designed by Jules Giraud in 1909 .  It shows the arms of the French Republic and the royal arms of Great Britain in the corners and the french republican fasces and the royal arms of King George V (1910-’36). Between the symbols of agrculture (palm-trees) and shippping (anchor) there is a composed emblem of local symbols. [3]



The central figure, an anthropomorphic indigenous idol emerging from a mute field, bristles with spears. Ornamental feathers on many of the spears give them the appearance of vigorous shaking. Each one of these weapons is distinct; each one likely symbolizes a different of the archipelago’s ten largest islands. Two slit-gong drums, also anthropomorphic, attend the idol on either side, leaning backward in awestruck and subordinate poses., a large vessel to the foreground of the tableau, and alongside four smaller vessels, appears to be bearing the idol, crowned with feathers,. These smaller vessels, a pair to each side, represent two distinct variations of pottery indigenous to the islands. [4]


The Resident Commisioner Badge



Badge: A white disc, thereon the royal British crown and later the Imperial State Crown in full colour, between the words “NEW” above and “HEBRIDES below in black lettering. On the Union flag the disc is surrouned by a garland. 

Source: Wikipedia

The Emblem of the Condominium 1969-1980




Head of Marianne on coins struck 1967-’82


the  palm-leaves and pig’s-tusk emblem on a 500 francs piece, struck 1979.



The Vanuatu Badge


Design of the Vanuatu Badge

Source: Internet

The Pig’s tusk and the Namele leaves symbolize Prosperity and Peace respectively


The Vanuatu National Flag



The flag of Vanuatu is tierced by a black and yellow pairle, black, red and green and in the black triangle at the mast end a two palm leaves in saltire enclosed by a pig’s tusk, all yellow.


The flag was designed by Malon Kalontas. He chose the pairle because he had learned at school that the archipelago was Y-shaped. For colours he chose:

  • Black: to symbolize Melanesia and the Melanesian race
  • Red: to symbolize unity by relationship
  • Green: to symbolize agriculture, the basis of Vanuatu’s economy
  • Yellow:  to symbolize Christianity


The Vanuatu National Emblem


The Vanuatu national emblem was adopted 30 July 1980. It is:


Emblem: A Melanesian Chief, armed with a spear, standing before a mountain. Behind him a boars’- tusk and two leaves of the namele (coconut palm) in saltire, all proper.

Motto: LONG GOD YUMI STANAP (“In God we Trust” in bislama language) in black lettering on a ribbon of twisted palm-leaves proper


ð See illustration in the head of this essay


The Melanesian Chief was chosen by the Hon. Walter Hayde Lini, who fought for independence and was the first Prime Minister. The motto is from the proclamation of independence on 30 July 1980 when he said in his speech that the people of Vanuatu would endure with God’s help: Long God Yumi Stanap in bislama language.

The mountain is the Espiritu Santu mountain (1811 m.)


The Presidential Flag


The Presidential flag is the successor of the flag of the Resident Commissioner. It shows the national emblem on a green cloth with a red bordure.


Presidential flag, 1989 -


Vanuatu Police



French Police Corps  coat of arms

British N.H. Constabulary, cap badge

(no higher resolution available)



The Vanuatu Police emblem shows:


Arms: Per fess of light blue and darkblue, a fess tierced black yellow and black, in chief the title VANUATU POLICE  in dark blue lettering, and the national emblem, augmented with a green garland, over all.



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© Hubert de Vries 2009-12-18. Updated 2019 -01-31




[1] ) Subordinated to the High Commisioner for the Western Pacific and the Governors of New Caledonia respectively

[2]  Herzog, Hans-Ulrich, & Georg Hannes: Lexicon Flaggen und Wappen. Leipzig, 1990. Hesmer, K.-H.: Flaggen und Wappen der Welt.. Gütersloh, 1992.

[3] Scott Dahl:ie  Moving Islands, Shifting Perspectives: a Microhistorical Essay and Two Novellas (One Partial). P. 23.


[4]  Edoardo Grendi, ‘Micro-analisi e storia sociale’ Quaderni storici 35 (1977): 506-20. Citation taken from Giovanni Levi, 'On Microhistory,' In New Perspectives on Historical Writing, ed. Peter Burke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 109.