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Military History - The Army

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In the years immediately following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840, friction between the settlers and the Maori people built up over land claims and came to a violent head in 1844. It was then that North Auckland Maori Chief Hone Heke led a well-armed force to Kororareka, now called Russell, in the Bay of Islands. The township was sacked, and general alarm at this rebellion led to the passing of the first Militia Ordinance in 1845. Under this Ordinance, all able-bodied men aged between 18 and 65 were required to hold themselves in readiness for service and for 28 days training every year.

Issue information

After the New Zealand Land Wars broke out in 1860 the Government decided that the establishment of local forces to supplement Imperial troops stationed in the country would help develop the country's 'self reliant' policy - the first Regular Force was formed in 1862 - the New Zealand Army was born.  In 1870 the last British regiment left New Zealand shores.

Since World War II, New Zealand soldiers have seen action in Korea, Malaysia and South Vietnam.  For all the soldiers of New Zealand's many military campaigns, the Army has a very special meaning: bad times and grim memories tend to fade into the background as they remember the good times and the comradeship.

In memory of those who did not return from war, the New Zealand Army opened a museum, to record how the country's military history has contributed to both the development of New Zealand and its national heritage.  The museum is outside the Waiouru township in the central North Island and was opened in October 1978.

The stamps in this issue depict some of the important military campaigns in which the New Zealand Army has fought.

Miniature Sheet: New Zealand Land Wars 1860s - $1.92

The miniature sheet incorporates the four stamps from this issue set against a background illustration of a military camp set in the New Zealand bush in the 1860s.  After the New Zealand Wars broke out in 1860 the Government decided that the establishment of local forces would assist in the development of the country's 'self reliant' policy and the first Regular Force was formed in 1862 - the New Zealand Army was born.  In 1870 the last British regiment left New Zealand shores.

Stamp Bulletin

This stamp issue first appeared in New Zealand Post Stamp Bulletin No. 32 in October 1984.

Acknowledgments: Bulletin scanned and provided by John Biddlecombe of the New Zealand Society of Great Britain. Their web site offers further information useful to those interested in the stamps and postal history of New Zealand. Link:

Product Listing for Military History - The Army

Image Title Description Price
  Single Stamp

Single 24c 'South Africa - 1901' gummed stamp.

In September 1899 the New Zealand Government offered Great Britain a contingent of mounted riflemen. Ten contingents eventually sailed for South Africa. New Zealand's contribution in proportion to population was exceeded only by Britain and Rhodesia. At Slingersfontein, the New Zealanders held a hilltop against the Boers (South Africans of Dutch descent), eventually dispersing them with a bayonet charge. This spot was renamed New Zealand Hill. The Boers surrendered at the end of May 1902. 288 New Zealanders died in South Africa, with more men dying of disease than wounds.

The stamp features a New Zealand mounted rifleman; in the background a mounted rifle platoon rides across a typical Transvaal landscape.

  Single Stamp

Single 40c 'France - 1917' gummed stamp.

In 1915 New Zealand troops had gone through the anguish of Gallipoli suffering heavy casualties fighting the Turkish Army. Their withdrawal to Egypt was soon followed by an order to move to France - the Western Front. Conditions were only marginally better than at Gallipoli and the New Zealanders had little time to become accustomed to the rigours of European trench warfare. In just two and half years the Western Front cost New Zealand 13,250 men dead of wounds or sickness, and nearly 35,000 wounded.

This stamp features a New Zealand Engineer officer in the uniform worn at the time and the distinctive New Zealand Arm "lemon squeezer" hat. In the background a motor lorry negotiates a "plank" road laid by engineers across the desolate and shell-torn landscape of the Western Front.

  Single Stamp

Single 58c 'North Africa - 1942' gummed stamp.

At the outbreak of World War II the New Zealand Government offered Britain support. Major General Bernard Freyberg was appointed General Officer Commanding the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force. In April and May of 1941 New Zealand troops had seen action in Greece and on Crete, being forced to withdraw with more than 4000 being taken Prisoner of War. The New Zealand Division was rushed to Egypt when the Germans advanced across North Africa. Under the leadership of General Montgomery, the 8th Army successfully attacked at El Alamein in 1942 and started an advance that pushed the enemy westwards across the desert to their eventual surrender in Tunisia in May 1943.
This stamp features the commander of a General Stuart "Honey" tank which was used by the 2nd New Zealand Divisional Cavalry.

  Single Stamp

Single 70c 'Korea and South East Asia - 1950-1972' gummed stamp.

In 1950 the special combat force 'Kayforce' was formed to serve with other United Nations' ground forces in Korea. A total of 3794 New Zealand soldiers served in Korea - of these 33 died, 79 were wounded and one was taken prisoner. In 1955 a Special Air Service unit was sent to Malaysia. During 17 months in jungle operations seven of their numbers were killed in action. A total of 3890 New Zealand troops served in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972, 35 soldiers died and a further 187 were wounded. The last of New Zealand's combat forces were withdrawn from Vietnam in December 1971 with the headquarters withdrawing in December 1972.

This stamp marks four post World War II campaigns in Asia - Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam. On the left, a 25 pounder gun of the 16th Field Regiment during a Korean winter; on the right, a New Zealand infantryman on patrol in a South East Asian jungle.

  Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $1.92
  First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $2.00
  Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $2.00
  Presentation Pack Presentation pack containing a selection of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps. $2.80

Technical information

Date of issue: Stamps, 7 November 1984; Presentation pack, 12 December 1984
Denominations: 24c, 40c, 58c, 70c
Miniature sheet: One stamp of each denomination, (i.e. 4 stamps on sheet) contained within a pictorial border depicting the New Zealand Wars in the 1860s.
Designer: R M  Conly, Waikanae
Printer and process: Harrison and Sons, England by lithography
Stamp size and format: 40.64mm x 29.81mm (horizontal)
Miniature sheet size: 122mm x 106mm
Sheet size:  100 (10 rows of 10 stamps)
Perforation gauge: 14.75 x 14
Paper type: Harrison and Sons, unwatermarked
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 30 November 1985.
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