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

2010 Matariki - Manu Tukutuku

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Take a journey forward to the future and back to the past – to ‘Matariki’, the dawn of a new Māori year, and to ‘manu tukutuku’, a symbol of Māori culture that has soared through the skies of history.

Issue information

As New Zealanders around the country join Māori in welcoming Matariki, we proudly mark the occasion with a unique stamp collection focused on manu tukutuku (traditional Māori kites). Authentic emblems of Māori cultural practice, these kites are also rich in cultural significance and an integral part of Māori folklore and rituals. Traditionally manu tukutuku were produced and flown at the time of Matariki. Today, only seven specimens remain of manu tukutuku, dating 19th and early 20th century. They are indeed precious taonga (treasures) and worthy of our admiration and respect.

In this issue we presented four beautiful stamps, two first day covers, a miniature sheet, a presentation pack and – most significantly of all – a prestigious and highly sought-after Limited Edition, which provided fascinating insights into the creation and use of this ancient Māori craft form.


New Zealand Post wishes to acknowledge the following for their assistance and guidance in bringing together this special stamp release which celebrated Matariki 2010.

  • Auckland Museum - Tamaki Paenga Hira
  • Bob Maysmor - New Zealand’s foremost authority on manu tukutuku
  • Veranoa Hetet - Traditional and contemporary Māori weaver
  • Len Hetet - Stamp and product designer
  • Doug Hauraki - Te reo translator
  • Garry Nicholas - Toi Māori Aotearoa.

Product Listing for 2010 Matariki - Manu Tukutuku

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Manu Aute' gummed stamp.

Māori made many of their kites in the shape of birds (manu), reflecting their belief that this was how a person’s soul or spirit was made manifest. ‘Manu aute’ was one of the largest birdlike kites, and the one featured on our 50 cent stamp is the oldest of all surviving specimens.

Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Manu Pātiki' gummed stamp.

New Zealand’s indigenous plants and birds provided Māori with ample materials for making manu tukutuku – from the leaves and bark of aute (paper mulberry), raupō (native bulrush), mānuka (tea tree) and kareao (supplejack) to the feathers of pigeons, hawks and other birds.

Single Stamp

Single $1.80 'Manu Taratahi' gummed stamp.

Only four known specimens of manu taratahi have survived to the present day – one is located at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, two (including the one on the stamp) at the Auckland Museum and one in Honolulu. Named after the single projecting plume at its upper end (taratahi means ‘end point’), this 700-millimetre-wide triangular kite would have been a spectacular sight for young and old.

Single Stamp

Single $2.30 'Upoko Tangata' gummed stamp.

Māori children would have delighted in the upoko tangata (named after the plant from which its covering was made). Smaller than most other kites and essentially rectangular in shape, it featured two short, wing-like extensions that reduced instability in flight – so it was probably designed especially for the younger generation. The kites depicted on this stamp and on the $1.00 stamp were designed by Veranoa Hetet – applying contemporary materials to traditional designs.

Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $5.60
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.10
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.10
Presentation Pack Presentation pack which incorporated a stamp set, miniature sheet and first day cover with four stamps affixed. $19.90
Limited Edition Limited edition pack which included a booklet written by Bob Maysmor, a first day cover signed by Bob, a numbered miniature sheet designed for this Edition, a full set of stamps and colour separations for the $2.30 stamp. $135.00

Technical information

Date of issue:  9 June 2010
Number of stamps: Four gummed stamps
Miniature sheet: One sheet with four stamps
Denominations: 50c, $1.00, $1.80, $2.30
Stamps and first day cover designed by: Len Hetet, Whakatane, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 40mm (two vertical, two horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing five stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until close of business 8 June 2011.