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

Matariki 2008

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For the Māori people, the night skies in June traditionally have huge significance: they herald the dawn of a new Māori year. The annual appearance of the seven stars of ‘Matariki’ (or the Pleiades constellation) signals a time for renewal, reflection and celebration!

Issue information

New Zealand Post was delighted to join the Matariki festivities with this, the first in a series of annual stamp issues, exploring different aspects of Māori culture and heritage. Taking a fascinating journey through Māori history and culture, we celebrated not only the constellation itself but also connections to the sea, to the land and to family (whānau). We also learn about the Māori worldview in which the gods, Sky Father Ranginui, Earth Mother Papatūānuku and their children, personify the dramatic forces of nature.

Brightness Against the Dark

The nights skies featured on the Matariki first day cover, miniature sheet and miniature sheet first day cover - all designed by Len Hetet of Ocean 64. Len also designed our Kingitanga stamp issue, a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Māori King movement in New Zealand.

A Stellar All-in-one Collection

The Matariki presentation pack included six gummed stamps, a miniature sheet (incorporating the six stamps), and the first day cover with six stamps attached.

The Ultimate Matariki Collectable

As a key part of New Zealand’s cultural identity, Matariki was a fitting topic for one of our limited editions – a rarely produced, highly valued collectable that’s often sold out long before it’s even produced. With only 2,000 individually numbered and authenticated limited editions available, it was a ‘must add’ to your collection! The Matariki limited edition contained several exclusive features – including in-depth commentary on the event and its significance from Dr Hirini Moko Mead, a foremost authority on Māori art and culture and an experienced leader on Treaty of Waitangi issues. Dr Mead also signed each of our limited edition first day covers, ensuring they remain a collectable in their own right for many years to come.

Product Listing for Matariki 2008

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Ranginui' gummed stamp.

The first stamp in our series depicted the seven stars of Matariki in the sky domain of Ranginui. It’s said that in the beginning Ranginui and Papatūānuku were in close embrace, with their children in the darkness between them – but their children decided they must separate their parents to illuminate the space in which they lived. Tāne, god of forests and birds, placed his feet against the breast of Ranginui and forced him into the heavens, leaving Papatūānuku as the Earth below, the foundation of life and all human activity.

Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Te Moana Nui A Kiwa' gummed stamp.

Te Moana nui a Kiwa (The Great Ocean of Kiwa) is the Māori name for the vast Pacific Ocean – crossed by their Polynesian ancestors who founded settlements in island groups wherever they travelled, including Aotearoa (New Zealand). Our stamp featured the tauihu (decorated prow) of a war canoe, thrust forward into the Ocean’s mighty waves – a symbol of discovery and adventure, the human need to see beyond the horizon and the spirit that drove Māori forefathers to set out into the unknown.

SIngle Stamp

Single $1.00 'Papatūānuku' gummed stamp.

Māori history, culture and identity are closely integrated with the land (whenua), as the foundation of sustenance, a medium for building and travel and a ground on which to stand with dignity and pride. Our stamp reflected the land’s role as a food producer and its place in Matariki – which appears in the southern skies when the harvest is complete, food is available for feasts and celebrations, and it’s time to prepare for the next growth cycle.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Whakapapa' gummed stamp.

Beyond being a time for festivity, Matariki is also a time of reflection, of remembering and celebrating the lives of family members and farewelling them into the spirit world. It’s closely tied to the concept of ‘whakapapa’ (or genealogy), which relates to family relationships, to ancestors (the anchor points of past generations) and their descendants, and to children, the adults of the future. Our $1.50 stamp honoured the spirit of whakapapa; the three cones symbolise the family group, witnessing the start of a new day.

Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'Takoha' gummed stamp.

The word ‘takoha’ refers to a pledge or token, usually in the form of a gift. It’s an integral part of Māori life – particularly at Matariki, when the celebrations and feasts require people to unite as one, and share or give what they can to make the occasion one to remember. Gifts also represent social contracts between parties, handed for safe-keeping from one generation to the next and becoming important and valued heirlooms – such as the tiki neck pendant depicted in our $2.00 stamp.

Single Stamp

Single $2.50 'Te Tau Hou' gummed stamp.

In the 21st century, Matariki has become a major milestone in Māori life, marked by events such as art exhibitions and festivals that continue long into the night. New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, hosts a special celebration – attended by several hundred guests – featuring traditional oratory and artistic performances. It’s a time to look forward to the promises of the new year, and enjoy dreams of a better life to come.

Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $8.00
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $8.50
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $8.50
Presentation Pack Presentation pack containing a selection of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps. $24.90
Limited Edition

Limited edition collectable containing exclusive stamp products not available anywhere else.


Technical information

Date of issue: 5 June 2008
Number of stamps: Six gummed stamps
Denominations: 50c (x2), $1.00, $1.50, $2.00, $2.50
Stamps, first day cover and miniature sheet 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
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 30mm (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 from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 4 June 2009.