New Zealand Post - official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins

1990 Heritage - The Ships

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This issue titled 1990 'The Ships' was another in the 'Heritage' stamp series leading up to the 1990 150th anniversary celebrations in New Zealand.

Issue information

The stamps were a salute to the vessels that brought Polynesian voyagers, settlers and the other immigrants that determined our ancestry.  From voyaging canoes to steamships, these craft carried the first New Zealanders through unchartered waters to an unseen landfall across the world.

The Maori arrival shrouded by time, is still the subject of conjecture and investigation as no written language existed. The stories of age-old voyages and landfalls were handed down orally from generation to generation and such oral tradition is always open to interpretation and challenge.  However, the story of European discovery goes back only three hundred years and is totally documented. Many European New Zealanders look back to forebears who braved passage on sailing ships that came half way around the world.

Using only basic celestial navigation, these ships were among the craft that transformed our island nation.  From the frail vessels of Abel Tasman to the sturdy ships of Cook's age, on to the swift and beautiful clippers and finally to steam, which spelled the end of sail. Each craft shown played an important and historic part in New Zealand's discovery and settlement.

Product listing for 1990 Heritage The Ships

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'Voyaging Canoe' gummed stamp.

Early Polynesian double-hulled canoes voyaged from Hawaiki to Aotearoa about 1000 years ago.  As well as carrying up to 60 people, these large canoes would carry such things as provisions, plants, seed tubers, pigs, dogs and fowl.  A fireplace on a bed of sand was carried for cooking during the voyage.  Some canoes were three-masted, with sails made of plaited pandanus mats.

Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Endeavour' gummed stamp.

In 1769, the 'Endeavour', under the command of Captain James Cook, sailed into Poverty Bay for an historic landfall.  Purchased by the British Navy for Cook, 'Endeavour' was not a fast ship, but had the advantage for such unknown voyages of being able to be careened and beached easily for repairs.  Refitted after Cook's voyage, 'Endeavour' was eventually sold by the British Navy in 1775.

Single Stamp

Single 60c 'Tory' gummed stamp.

On 5 April 1839, the 'Tory' was commissioned to carry the advance party of English settlers to New Zealand.  Thirty five passengers, including Charles Heaphy and Edward Jerningham Wakefield were among those on the 96 day voyage.  Arriving in Queen Charlotte Sound on 17 September 1839, the 'Tory' entered Wellington Harbour three days later.  This three-masted, square-rigged barque was wrecked just two years later in the Palawan Passage.

Single Stamp

Single 80c 'Crusader' gummed stamp.

Between 1871 and 1897, 'Crusader' made 28 return voyages between England and New Zealand.  Built of iron, she once carried immigrants to our shores in a remarkable 65 days.  Auckland, Wellington, Bluff and Port Chalmers were all visited by the speedy 'Crusader'.

Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Edwin Fox' gummed stamp.

Built of solid teak, the 'Edwin Fox', with 140 immigrants on board, first landed at Lyttelton in 1873.  A true 'survivor', she sailed the world for 32 years and led an eventful life.  Later, in service as a coal hulk, she sank a collier schooner and also ran aground.  Fully repaired, she served out her last working days in New Zealand coastal waters.  She is currently under restoration in Picton Harbour.

Single Stamp

Single $ 1.50 'Arawa' gummed stamp.

Launched in 1884, the 'Arawa' was considered one of the most beautiful steamships ever built.  A very fast vessel, she could average 14 knots and on her second voyage to New Zealand, she established an around the world record.  She carried 95 first class passengers, 52 second class passengers and 200 immigrants in permanent berths.  There was also additional room for 470 more immigrants in a cargo 'tween deck with portable bulkheads'.  Originally built for the Shaw Savill Line, 'Arawa' was torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean by a German submarine.

First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $5.05

Technical information

Date of issue:  7 March 1990
Designers: G Fuller, Havelock North
Printers: Leigh-Mardon, Australia
Stamp size: 40mm x 28mm
Sheet size: 105mm x 125mm
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 14 x 14.25
Paper type:  Red phosphor coated, unwatermarked
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 7 March 1991.