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

Kīngitanga: Celebrating 150 Years

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The Māori King Movement, or Kīngitanga is a movement, that arose among some Māori tribes of New Zealand in the 1850s to establish a symbolic role similar in status to that of the monarch of the colonising people, the British.

Issue information

Since the mid 1800s the Kīngitanga has been a force in New Zealand society. The movement combines spiritual and political elements which conserve the "tūrangawaewae" (standpoints) of the past with practical leadership in the contemporary Māori world.

The position of Māori monarch is a non-constitutional role with no legal power in New Zealand, but it is a symbolic role invested with a high degree of mana (prestige). Since the 1850s the role has been vested in the Tainui iwi (tribe) who agreed to guard the position when it was created. The current Māori monarch (in 2008), Tuheitia Paki, is descended from the first Māori king, Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, and was elected in 2006. His official residence is Tūrongo House at Tūrangawaewae marae in the town of Ngāruawāhia.

This special commemorative issue marked the 150th anniversary of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero agreeing on 2 May 1857 to accept the Kingship.


The stunning images used in this stamp series were sourced from the collection of major artworks by Fred Graham called Ngā Pou o Pōtatau that were acquired by the Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust in perpetuity for Tainui Iwi. The collection is a significant celebration of the Kīngitanga movement and speaks also of the richness of whakapapa, history, symbolism and metaphor. Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, the first Māori King, was a pivotal figure in binding past and future visions – as represented in the artworks.

This special stamp series depicted three significant works within the collection that are linked with the first King. These pieces are based on three well known whakatauākī (proverbs) that Pōtatau is stringly identified with and continue to have relevance to followers of the Kīngitanga movement today.

Celebrating 150 Years

In June 1858 at Ngāruawāhia, during the coronation of Pōtatau Te Wherowhero as the first Māori King, Te Heuheu of Tūwharetoa uttered “Pōtatau, on this day you are the King for the Māori people. You are one with Queen Victoria, the teachings of Christianity will guide and foster you, and the law of the land will guide your journey forever”. Pōtatau replied, “There is but one eye of the needle through which the strands (of humanity) must pass. The strand of white, the strand of black and the red strand. After me, hold fast to love, the law and faith.”

The Kīngitanga, supported by many rangatira, dignitaries, and supporters over the last two centuries, nationally and internationally, has helped weave a strong whāriki to support Māori unification and succession. Pai Mārire.

The whāriki (woven mat) image used on the first day cover represents the act of giving and gifting. The woven pattern of the whāriki (taki toru) has many meanings to followers of the Kīngitanga movement.


NZ Post wishes to acknowledge King Tuheitia Paki and the Kīngitanga Movement for their assistance and guidance in bringing together this special stamp release commemorating and celebrating 150 years of the Kīngitanga movement. Special acknowledgements also for artist and sculptor Fred Graham for further supporting the use of images from this breathtaking collection of Ngā Pou o Pōtatau. Finally, we would like to thank the Waikato Raupatu Land Claims Office and the Waikato Museum for allowing us to use the images and text in support of the development of this special series.


Acclaimed Māori contemporary sculptor, Fred Graham, is Ngāti Koroki, Ngāti Kahukura and Ngāti Raukawa. He was born in Arapuni in 1928 and began his career in carving under master carver Pine Taiapa.

Later, he was one of a group of Māori artists including Ralph Hotere, Arnold Wilson and Para Matchitt who were trained by Gordon Tovey as national art specialists for the Department of Education during the 1950s.

Product Listing for Kīngitanga: Celebrating 150 Years

Image Title Desription Price

Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Miro Whero, Miro Mā, Miro Pango' gummed stamp.

Kotahi anō te kōhao o te ngira e kuhu ai te miro whero, te miro mā, te miro pango. In his speech of acceptance Pōtatau Te Wherowhero stressed the spirit of unity symbolised by the kingship, likening his position to the 'eye of the needle through which the white, black and red threads must pass'.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'He Piko He Taniwha' gummed stamp.

 Ko Taupiri te maunga, ko Pōtatau Te Wherowhero te tangata, Waikato taniwha rau, he piko he taniwha, he piko he taniwha. Taupiri is the mountain, Pōtatatau Te Wherowhero is the man, Waikato of a hundred taniwha, at every bend a chief can be found.

Single Stamp

Single $2.50 'Kia Mau' gummed stamp.

I muri au kia mau ki te whakapono, ki te aroha, ki te ture. Hei aha te aha. Hei aha te aha. After I am gone, hold fast to faith, hold fast to love, hold fast to the law. Nothing else matters now nothing.

First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $5.00

Technical information

Date of issue: 2 May 2008
Number of stamps: Three gummed stamps
Denominations and designs: 50c, $1.50, $2.50
Stamps and first day cover designed by: Len Hetet – Ocean 64 Ltd, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd - by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours + one special colour (silver)
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 30mm - 50c and $1.50 (vertical), $2.50 (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14 x 14
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps for a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 1 May 2009.