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Fish of Tokelau

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The three tiny atolls of Tokelau are situated in the vast Pacific Ocean, and are surrounded by a range of fish species, four of which feature on the ‘Fish of Tokelau’ stamp issue.

Issue information

Fishing plays a major role in day-to-day life in Tokelau and it’s common for men and boys to spend long hours at sea every day catching fish. Fish is the most important food source on the islands, and when a party returns from a collective reef fishing expedition, the whole catch is meticulously shared with each household. This reflects the communal system by which the islanders live, called ‘inati’.

The fish in Tokelau’s waters are largely found throughout the Pacific, and Tokelauans use a range of traditional and modern techniques to make their catch. The fish illustrated in this colourful stamp issue are the kakahi (yellowfin tuna), the palu malau (ruby snapper), the paala (wahoo) and the mahimahi (common dolphinfish).

40c stamp - Kakahi

Kakahi (Thunnus albacares) are commonly found at depths of 100 to 120 metres in Tokelau, and are a favourite catch of Tokelauans. They are torpedo-shaped with dark metallic-blue backs, yellow sides and silver bellies.

45c stamp - Palu malau

The palu malau (Etelis carbunculus) is found in Tokelau’s tropical waters and is a fairly long fish with a forked tail. It is found at depths of 90 to 400 metres, and while it can measure up to 120 centimetres in length, it is often smaller.

$1.40 stamp - Paala

The wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri) is one of the fastest-moving fish in the world and is streamlined with an elongated body. It is covered in tiny scales and is usually found on its own, or in groups of two or three.

$2.00 stamp - Mahimahi

The common dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) is found in warm waters such as those of Tokelau. It has a long, compressed body and mature males are known for having prominent bony crests on the front of their heads.

As part of this issue, two first day covers are also available. The kakahi and palu malau are featured on the respective covers, and the date stamp portrays a wooden fish hook that would have traditionally been used throughout the Pacific.

Technical information

Date of issue: 3 October 2012
Number of stamps: Four gummed stamps
Stamps, miniature sheet and first day covers designed by: New Zealand Post Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand
Denominations: 40c, 45c, $1.40 and $2.00
Printer and process: Collectables and Solutions Centre, New Zealand Post, Whanganui, New Zealand
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 40mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 16
Perforation gauge: 13.33
Period of sale: Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 2 October