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Reptiles of Tokelau

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The islands of Tokelau were settled about 1,000 years ago and are now home to around 1,500 hardy locals who inhabit its limited 12 square kilometres of land. Tokelau is a Polynesian word meaning ‘North Wind’ which suits this northern set island which lies 483 km north of Samoa. 

Issue information

Due to the limited size of the atolls and the poor soil fertility, very little has been able to thrive and grow comfortably. Efforts have been made in some areas to improve soil quality, this has allowed for some staple crops such as banana, papaya and taro to grow along with the more common coconut and pandanus trees.

The only animals to be found in and around the island are birds and lizards, along with other introduced specimens such as rats and pigs. This stamp issue focused on four reptile species that can be found on Tokelau’s three atolls.

Product Listing for Reptiles of Tokelau

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 45c 'Moth Skink - Lipinia noctua' gummed stamp.

The moth skinks most notable feature is a bright yellow spot at the base of its head that fades into a long stripe down its back. The average length of this skink is about nine centimetres, although it can get as long as 12. Unlike many skink species, the moth skink gives birth to live young rather than laying eggs, with the average litter size being just 1-2. When attacked by a predator the moth skink has the ability to detach its tail which will continue to wriggle in order to distract the predator while the skink flees. 

Single Stamp

Single $1.40 'Pelagic Gecko - Nactus pelagicus' gummed stamp.

The majority of the islands where this gecko is found have a relatively low human population meaning that the gecko is able to thrive with minimal threat to its numbers. A favourite hiding spot for this gecko is buried beneath a pile of coconut husks. It favours neither wet nor dry climates and is able to survive quite happily in either. It does however, appear to favour rocky terrain over anything else, and can often be found in and around rural villages. Relatively inactive during the day, it comes to life at night, foraging amongst leaf debris on the forest floor.  

Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'Copper-tailed Skink - Emoia cyanura' gummed stamp.

This sun-loving skink can often be found sunning itself on low-lying rocks or scurrying along sandy beach areas. Unlike its close cousin Emoia impar, this skink prefers to spend most of its time in the sun rather than hidden away in the shade. Its body is dark brown to blackish and has three pale stripes extending from its snout to its tail. The tail can vary in colour from cooper, to green or blue, often appearing different colours in different light. 

Single Stamp

Single $3.00 'Black Skink - Emoia nigra' gummed stamp.

This common black skink is sometimes known as the black emo skink, when the shortened version or its scientific name is used. It has an extremely wide distribution and can be found on most tropical islands in abundance. Usually sticking to low-lying forest areas, this skink’s main threat is predation from mongoose and cats. However, the vast number of these skinks and their tolerance to habitat change mean that its population is unlikely to be affected. 

Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $6.85
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $7.35
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $7.35

Technical information

Date of issue: 20 September 2017
Number of stamps:  Four gummed stamps
Denominations: 45c, $1.40, $2.00, $3.00
Stamps, miniature sheet and first day covers designed by: Jonathan Gray, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer: Collectables and Solutions Centre, New Zealand Post, Whanganui, New Zealand
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: 16
Perforation gauge: 13.33
Special blocks: Plate and value blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 19 September 2018.
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