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Christmas 1982

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This year’s Christmas stamps again featured an ‘Old Master’, a religious scene, and a scene which typifies Christmas in the Southern Hemipshere.

Issue information

The Madonna with Child and Two Angels by Piero di Cosimo is held in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and a reproduction of the painting featured on the 18 cent stamp. The Rangiātea Māori Church, Otaki was pictured on the 35 cent stamp and the 45 cent stamp depicted Surf Life-Saving. All three stamps were designed by Margaret Chapman (Christchurch, New Zealand) who also designed last year’s set.

The Old Master

The ‘Old Master’ stamp featured a border of pōhutukawa flowers which gave it the unique flavour of a New Zealand Christmas.
Di Cosimo took his name from his teacher, Cosimo Rosselli, another renaissance painter of the Florentine school. Piero Di Cosimo (1462 – 1521) was a contemporary of Michelangelo and Raphael, and his style was strongly influenced by them and by Leonardo da Vinci. Di Cosimo spent some time working on frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and his style is characterised by imaginative and original interpretations of subjects with a penchant for detail.

The Rangiātea Church

The Rangiātea church features beautiful Māori art, which was given prominence in the 35 cent stamp design.
After a church was built at nearby Waikanae, the Māori Chief Te Rauparaha decided that the Ngāti Raukawa tribe should also have one at Otaki. In 1844, trees were cut down at Ohau, some of which were hauled down the coast, and others floated down streams. From Otaki beach the logs were taken to the site of Rangiātea. However, building did not begin until 1848, when Te Rauparaha returned from confinement in the north where he was detained as a result of the Māori Wars. That same year, Sam Williams came to Otaki, where he did valuable work until Sir George Grey persuaded him to establish Te Aute College in 1854.

By 1849 the church and community were flourishing. One early historian wrote “Every morning, as soon as the service is concluded, school commences, which is attended by almost the whole congregation, consisting of old and young, women and children. However, this enthusiasm did not last, perhaps because of the tragedy of the wars, or the later drastic drop in population”.
In March 1950, Rangiātea celebrated its centenary, a year earlier than had been planned because Bishop Bennett and Sir Apirana Ngata requested it, and both were dead within two months of each other later that year. Since 1901 the pastors have all been Māoris.

The Rangiātea church is still in use, and is famous as a lovely example of Māori art. The ridge pole is 26.213 metres long and the interior walls are alternative panels of wood slabs and weaving in the star seedling pattern. Three totara trunks support the ridge beam. The alter rails, the pulpit and the lectern are all beautifully carved and the sacred soil of Ra’iātea is buried under the sanctuary.

Surf Life-Saving

The inclusion of a stamp depicting surf life-saving recognised the important role this organisation plays in making the Christmas period in New Zealand safer.

During the previous 10 or 12 years, surf life-savers rescued 15,000 people, and last summer rescued 767 swimmer from New Zealand beaches.

About 8,000 people belonged to 69 surf life-saving clubs throughout New Zealand, and membership rapidly grew, with almost a thousand new cadets under 14 years old.

Surf life-saving began in Australia in 1907, and in New Zealand three years later as part of the Royal Life-Saving Society. In 1932, the Surf Life-Saving Association founded as a breakaway group, concentrating on beach rescues. In 1982, as the Association celebrated its Golden Jubilee, it could boast assets worth $8 million. With seven jetboats, 40 inflatable rubber boats, and a surf helicopter service operating from Auckland, its members service much of New Zealand’s coast. As a competitive body, the Surf Life-Saving Association ranks second only to Australia, and a women’s team had recently completed a tour of Great Britain.

Product listing for Christmas 1982

Image Title Description Price
  Single Stamp

Single 18c ‘Madonna with Child and Two Angels’ gummed stamp.

The original of this Old Master by Piero di Cosimo hangs in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

  Single Stamp

Single 35c ‘Rangiātea Māori Church, Otaki’ gummed stamp.

This church was inspired by Octavius Hadfield and Te Rauparaha and built in 1848-49. The main focal points of the church were the window and altar and these were captured on the stamp. The church was destroyed by fire by an arsonist in 1995 and has since been rebuilt.

  Single Stamp

Single 45c ‘Surf Life-Saving’ gummed stamp.

New Zealand is a world leader in surf life-saving and there are nine district associations that administer the sport throughout the country. Surf life-saving patrols are an established part of the Christmas scene in the Southern Hemisphere.

  First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $1.05

Stamp Bulletin

This stamp issue first appeared in New Zealand Post Stamp Bulletin No. 28 in October 1982.

Acknowledgments: 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:

Technical information

Date of issue:  6 October 1982
Number of stamps Three
Denominations and design: 18c Madonna with Child and Two Angels, 35c Rangiatea Maori Church, 45c Surf Life-saving
Stamps and first day cover designed by: Margaret Chapman, Christchurch, New Zealand
Printer and process: Heraclio Fournier, Spain by photogravure 
Number of colours: 18c and 35c stamps: four process colours plus gold lettering; 45c stamp: five colours
Stamp size and format: 26.5mm x 41mm
Sheet size:   100 stamps per sheet
Perforation gauge: 13.7
Paper Type: Unwatermarked
Special blocks: Plate/imprint, positional, or value blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps of all denominations.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 30 June 1983.
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