Official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins
Call: 06 262 7262

1956 Southland Centennial

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With the town of Invercargill being surveyed and laid out in 1856 it was agreed that Southland's Centennial was to be celebrated in January 1956, although smaller settlements at Riverton, Bluff and on Stewart Island existed before that year.

Issue information

Three stamps were issued to commemorate the event, depicting whaling, and farming scenes plus the rare bird - the takahe.  A competition was held to select the stamp designs, with the end result being that the 2d design was completed by E R Leeming, the 3d by L C Mitchell and the 8d by M R Smith.


Historical Information

Information included on this page sourced from The Postage Stamps of New Zealand published by the Royal Philatelic Society of NZ. Their web site offers further information useful to those interested in the stamps and postal history of New Zealand. Link:

Stamp Bulletin

Bulletin scanned and provided by John Biddlecombe of the New Zealand Society of Great Britain. Their web site offers further information useful to those interested in the stamps and postal history of New Zealand. Link:

Stamp Bulletin

This stamp issue first appeared in New Zealand Post Stamp Bulletin No. 9 on 30 September 1955.

Product Listing for 1956 Southland Centennial

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 2d 'Whaling' gummed stamp.

Whalers were depicted on this stamp due to their direct link to one of the earliest phases of European settlement in New Zealand.  They came first as fleeting visitors hunting the sperm whale in the open sea.  Later, shore whaling stations were set up - the first one in 1827 at Tory Channel, at the north of the South island.  Other stations appeared around New Zealand over the next ten years.  But the industry did not last very long and by 1860 whales were becoming scarce.  As a result many whalers turned to other work.

Single Stamp

Single 3d 'Farming' gummed stamp.

Southland is a farming province.  That is the reason for the agricultural and pastoral scene being picked for this stamp.  One quarter of the South Island's sheep are in Southland, and it is the sixth most important sheep farming district in New Zealand.  The district also contains the fourth largest number of beef cattle farms in New Zealand.  On the plains of Southland many herds are also run for dairy factory supply.  Arable mixed farming is also a feature of the region.

Single Stamp

Single 8d 'Takahe' gummed stamp.

This bird was thought to be extinct, as it had not been seen since 1898.  It was re-discovered in 1948 in Southland's Fiordland by Dr G Orbell of Invercargill whose interest in the bird began in the 1920s - after he spent nearly thirty years picking up information about possible hiding places.  Fully grown the takahe stands over 50cm high and weighs about 2.7kg. The wings, incapable of flight, have up to a three foot span.  The adult bird is vividly coloured.


Technical information

Date of issue: 16 January 1956
Designers: E R Leeming, L C Mitchell and M R Smith
Printers: Thomas De La Rue, England
Stamp size: 2d and 3d: 40mm x 24mm;  8d: 24mm x 28mm
Sheet size: 2d and 3d: 120 stamps per sheet;  8d: 160 stamps per sheet
Process: Recess printed - Intaglio
Perforation gauge: 2d and 3d: 13 x 12.5;  8d: 13
Paper type: Wiggins Teape 'Royal Cypher', multiple NZ and star watermark
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 31 August 1957.
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