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

Colin McCahon 1919-1987

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Born in 1919‚ Colin McCahon grew up in Dunedin‚ always knowing he would be a painter. The distinctive power and originality of his images would make McCahon a giant of New Zealand painting, and today he is recognised internationally as one of Aotearoa’s most significant artists.

All images courtesy of the Colin McCahon Research and Publication Trust.

Issue information

Colin McCahon was born in Timaru but spent most of his life in Auckland where he worked at the Auckland Art Gallery and taught at the Elam School of Art. McCahon began as a landscape painter, forming from this a visionary style featuring the placement of religious images and words against New Zealand backdrops. This issue features five of his well-recognised works.

Presentation Pack

You could learn more about Colin McCahon’s life from writer, editor and curator Peter Simpson. Peter has published several books on McCahon and curated several McCahon exhibitions. In 2017 Peter received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Non-Fiction. In 2019 he published Colin McCahon: There Is Only One Direction: Volume One 1919-1959. A second volume, Colin McCahon: Is This The Promised Land?: Volume Two 1960-1987 will follow in 2020.

Miniature Sheet and First Day Covers

The miniature sheet featured a paint-textured red background, whole the first day cover displayed an iconic image of the prolific painter. 

Product Listing for Colin McCahon 1919-1987

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single $1.30 'I Am' gummed stamp.

Oil on jute canvas, 1954. I Am was the first of many paintings by McCahon constructed entirely from words. Here his lettering draws on display advertising, movie credits and the multiple perspectives of Cubism.

Single Stamp

Single $1.30 'Titirangi Landscape' gummed stamp.

Oil on canvas, 1954. In this joyful and strongly rhythmical evening landscape McCahon explores the connections in shape between circular bouncy clouds lit by the late sun and the curvy shapes of the hills.

Single Stamp

Single $2.60 'The Angel of the Annunciation' gummed stamp.

Oil on cardboard ‚ 1947. In 1947-1948 McCahon startled audiences with radically unfamiliar paintings based on biblical stories. McCahon placed the figures within a local landscape and treated them in style that proved highly controversial.

Single Stamp

Single $3.30 'Red and Black Landscape' gummed stamp.

Enamel on sand on hardboard, 1959. In 1958 McCahon spent time in the United States observing both contemporary and historical paintings. On returning his method changed radically, here using enamel house paint and sand on hardboard.

Single Stamp

Single $4.00 'The First Waterfall' gummed stamp.

Oil on jute on board‚ 1964. McCahon wrote: “The waterfalls started flowing in 1964… I look back with joy on taking a brush of white paint and curving through the darkness with a line of white.”

Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled gummed miniature sheet. $12.50
First Day Cover First day cover with five gummed stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $13.00
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with gummed miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $13.00
Presentation Pack

Writer, editor and curator Peter Simpson has published several books on McCahon and curated several McCahon exhibitions. In 2017 Peter received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Non-Fiction. You could learn about Colin McCahon’s life with this presentation pack, with copy by Peter Simpson. The pack included a set of five stamps, a miniature sheet and a first day cover.

Still available to purchase. Click here.


Technical information

Date of issue: 3 July 2019
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Denominations: $1.30 x 2, $2.60, $3.30, $4.00
Stamps, miniature sheet and first day covers designed by: Alan Hollows, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 46mm x 35mm (two vertical, three horizontal)
Miniature sheet size and format: 145mm x 95mm (horizontal)
Paper type:  Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet:  25
Perforation gauge: 14.286 x 14.47
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 2 July 2020. First day covers remained on sale until 28 August 2019.