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

Heritage - The People

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This sixth issue in the 'Heritage ' series of stamps commemorating New Zealand's 150th anniversary in 1990 honours the Tangata Whenua - the original people of the land.

Issue information

Many hundreds of years ago, ancestors of the Maori are believed to have sailed from the west - to settle in the Pacific Islands of Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa.  A few hundred years later, their descendants settled the Marquesas and Cook Islands - what is now known as Hawaiki, or the homeland of the New Zealand Maori.  It was from here, around 800AD, that the first canoes ventured to Aotearoa.

As well as introducing the dog, the rat and edible plants to this land, these settlers also brought with them their Polynesian cultural heritage - which has developed over time to become the Maori culture as we know it today.

Product listing for Heritage - The People

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Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'Ranginui raua ko Papatuanuku - The Legend of Rangi and Papa' gummed stamp.

It is told that in the beginning, all was darkness, Rangi the sky father and Papa the earth mother lay in their primal embrace. Then, the sons of these first parents separated earth and sky - creating the world of light in which we live in today.

Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Kahu - huruhuru - Maori Feather Cloak' gummed stamp.

This particular feather cloak shows a stunning combination of pigeon, tui and kaka feathers - and is based on traditional design. Women of rank were usually selected to craft these fine garments. They would weave a shaped 'blanket' of flax fibres then tie a cover of feathers into this weave. These prestigious feather cloaks were often used on ceremonial occasions and for gift exchanges.

Single Stamp

Single 60c 'Waiata - Song' gummed stamp.

The waiata is a chant-like song which played a large part in everyday life - for young and old alike. There are various different kinds: oriori, a lullaby; pao, a derisive song and dance for entertainment; tuki waka, a chant for canoe paddlers to keep in time; and apakura, a lament sung in mourning. The women shown singing and performing actions on this stamp are clothed in various styles of mid-19th century traditional dress.

Single Stamp

Single 80c 'Moko - Maori Tattoo' gummed stamp.

The moko is the art of traditional Maori tattoo. Originally, soot and water pigment was tattooed into the skin with a bone adze-like blade tapped with a mallet. These intricate designs actually convey information about the wearer's identity and ancestry.

Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Tau ihu - War Canoe Prow' gummed stamp.

This carved bow piece of a Maori war canoe is a superb example of the degree of intricacy and finish these craftsmen could achieve - despite the crudity of their tools. The main focus of this stamp is on the pitau or spiral element of the canoe prow.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Haka - Maori War Dance' gummed stamp.

Made famous around the world by New Zealand's national rugby team, the All Blacks, - the haka is truly a sight to strike fear into the heart of opponents, while inspiring the performers with courage. Contrary to popular belief, the haka can in fact express a number of emotions, ranging from joy to grief. The dance was composed and performed on many occasions - sometimes by women only.

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

Technical information

Date of issue:  24 August 1990
Designers: K Hall, Christchurch
Printers: Leigh-Mardon, Australia
Stamp size: 40mm x 28mm
Sheet size: 100 stamps per sheet
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 14 x 14.25
Paper type: Coated Papers, red phosphor coated, unwatermarked
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 24 August 1991.