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Music in New Zealand

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Four types of music groups which are enjoyed throughout New Zealand are shown on this issue.

Issue information

A classical orchestra (30c), a brass band (60c), a highland pipe band (80c) and a country music band ($1) are depicted on the stamps.

The earliest European settlers formed choral societies, but a national orchestra was established only in 1940. The Centennial Festival Orchestra was broken up by the second world war, but reformed in 1946 as the National Orchestra. A National Youth Orchestra was established in 1959.

The first New Zealnd brass band is believed to have been that of the Taranaki Volunteer Rifles, formed at New Plymouth on 14 March 1859. For many years almost every township possessed its band, a symbol of civic pride.

The Caledonian Pipe Band of Southland formed at Invercargill in 1896 was the first pipe band formed in New Zealand.  Many towns and cities and some secondary schools still have their own pipe bands, which complete through the New Zealand Highland Pipe Bands Association.

Country music is a more recent arrival, which enjoys widespread popularity.

Stamp Bulletin

This stamp issue first appeared in New Zealand Post Stamp Bulletin No. 36 in September 1986.

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 Music in New Zealand

Image Title  Description Price
  Single Stamp

Single 30c 'Classical Music' gummed stamp.

It is a shared experience - the composer puts his thoughts on paper, the musicians bring them to life, the conductor interprets and controls, and the listeners and musicians alike take delight in the realisation of a composer's thoughts and moods. Symphony orchestras are made up of selected groups of instruments, each with their own role to play in the overall performance of the music. There are the strings featuring violins, violas, cellos and double basses all bowed, and the harp; the woodwind featuring flutes, clarinets, piccolos, oboes and bassoons; brass featuring horns, trumpets, trombones and tubas; and percussion featuring xylophone, castanets, triangles, tambourines, drums and cymbals. New Zealand's National Symphony Orchestra was officially launched on 24 October 1946 and gave its first concert on 6 March 1947.

  Single Stamp

Single 60c 'Brass Band Music' gummed stamp.

It began in England, and is generally thought to have developed from a sudden flourishing of wind bands somewhere between 1800 and 1825. Gradually various groups came together in ever increasing numbers, until band music reached its maturity at the end of the 19th century, composed largely of members of the working and artisan classes. The first band, the regimental band of the 58th Regiment, arrived in New Zealand in 1845. As the band movement grew, so did competitiveness, and contesting developed. They were an integral part of civic occasions, concerts and displays. At the outbreak of war many bandsmen offered their services, some bands volunteering for service as a complete unit. Today almost every city and town have their own brass bands. The National Band of New Zealand has its members selected from the cream of the country's amateur bandspeople, and has won may prestigious titles.

  Single Stamp

Single 80c 'Highland Pipe Band Music' gummed stamp.

It was recorded in 'Cook's Discovery of New Zealand' that when he was having trouble communicating with the native inhabitants of the newly discovered land, he asked a crewmen to play the bagpipes in the hope the music would have an affect on the local people - it did. Almost magically they came out to find the source of the strange new sound. In the 1840s, Scottish settlers quickly rebuilt the traditions of their homeland and formed into small groups to play together as bands. The Caledonian Societies were formed to hold social events and encourage sports meetings based on the traditional highland gatherings of Scotland. Today, the groups are part of the Highland Pipe Bands Association of New Zealand and some have represented New Zealand in various championships and received invitations to appear at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

  Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Country Music' gummed stamp.

The western movies were accompanied by 'country' music and when this caught on it became popular as an outlet for expressing feelings and telling stories. Especially in the days of the Depression, when money was short and times were hard, music became a form of comfort and communication. Every area of New Zealand had its own artist, as well-known and popular locally as the many international recording stars. As technology progressed, country music became more widespread and more popular. Today, New Zealand has over 100 amateur country music clubs which recognise the need to encourage young musicians and singers and give them the opportunity to succeed in the business.

  First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $2.87

Technical information

Date of issue:  5 November 1986
Denominations: 30c, 60c, 80c, $1.00
Designer: Robert Freeman, Auckland
Printer and process: Leigh-Mardon Pty Ltd, Australia by offset lithography
Stamp size and format: 28mm x 40mm ( Vertical)
Stamps per sheet: 100 (10 rows of 10 stamps)
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 30 November 1987.
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