Official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins
Call: 06 262 7262

Māori Language

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Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori - The language is the life force of being Māori.

Issue information

The Māori language came to New Zealand with the Polynesian migrations around 1,200 years ago. Since then, it has developed independently of other Polynesian tongues to become the Māori language of today. It is estimated that in 1995 some 50,000 New Zealanders, almost all of Māori descent, were fluent speakers of Māori and perhaps another 100,000 understood the language.

As Māori is not spoken widely anywhere else in the world, it has provided New Zealand with a unique language identity. For that reason, and for the important role it has to play as a positive social force in the Māori community, its survival is seen as vital. This was recognised with The Māori Language Act 1987, which declared it to be an official language of New Zealand. Another important step was taken in making 1995 Māori Language Year - Te Tau O Te Reo Māori.

Limited Edition

A unique sheet was produced for inclusion in a special limited edition collectors pack. The sheet incorporated four strips of the six stamps and included a decorative border.

Product listing for Māori Language

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 45c 'Kōhanga Reo Māpihi Pounamu (Treasured Language Nest)' gummed stamp.

The resurgence of interest in the Māori language has been nowhere better illustrated than in the spread of the kōhanga reo or language nests. These early childhood education centres use Māori as the sole language of instruction. The first kōhanga reo was set up in 1981 and by the end of 1987 there were 522 established around the country, catering for over 11,000 children.

Single Stamp

Single 70c 'Waiata Whakaoho Wairua (Sing to Awaken the Spirit)' gummed stamp.

Waiata are the traditional, centuries old chants that are sung without musical accompaniment. The more tuneful action songs, or waiata-ā-ringa, are a relatively recent development. The most lyrical Māori action songs - such as Pōkarekare ana - were written between World War I and II.

Single Stamp

Single 80c 'He Akoranga kei ngā Pūrakau (Acquire Knowledge through Stories)' gummed stamp.

In earlier times the Māori language did not exist in any written form. All knowledge was passed from one generation to the next by weaving spoken words to tell and retell myths, legends and tribal stories.

Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Manu Korihi Whakatau Manuhiri (The Welcoming Call)' gummed stamp.

All the formalities at a marae are carried out in Māori. The welcoming call of the women ritually clears the way for the men to be able to speak. It is in fact more than a call, it is that part of the ceremony of welcome which gives the women the opportunity to vent their feelings.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Whakapapa Tūhonohono Tāngata (Recite the Genealogies that Link People)' gummed stamp.

The recitation of the family tree, or one's Whakapapa, forms an important part of the Māori oral tradition in passing on information. For every Māori, it provides a crucial source of identity and pride.

Single Stamp

Single $1.80 'Whaikorero Whakatakoto Tikanga (Tell the Lore of the People)' gummed stamp.

Whaikorero is the art of formal speech-making that is made on the marae. This oratory is rich in imagery, subtlety and linguistic nuances. It requires a great knowledge of tribal history, proverbs and mythology and is a skill that takes years to master.

First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.50
Set of Maximum Cards Pre-paid set of six postcards featuring a stamp on the front and artwork from the stamp issue. $8.10
Set of Postcards Set of six postcards. $8.10
Limited Edition Limited edition collectable containing exclusive stamp products not available anywhere else. $135.00

Technical information

Date of issue: 3 May 1995
Stamps and first day cover designed by: Manu Kōpere Society, Plimmerton, New Zealand
Number of stamps: Six
Denominations: 45c; 70c; 80c; $1.00; $1.50; $1.80
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand by lithography
Stamp size and format: 28mm x 40mm vertical
Number of stamps per sheet: 100
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 14
Paper type: Harrison and Sons, red phosphor coated, unwatermarked
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 3 May 1996.
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