Every four years The British & Irish Lions tour the Southern Hemisphere, and in 2017 it was New Zealand’s turn to host and compete in a series that captivated a nation. The series began in Whangarei on 3 June, and over the course of six weeks, ten matches were played in seven different cities against eight different New Zealand teams.
The British & Irish Lions rugby Tour was first dreamt up by a couple of English cricketers by the names of Alfred Shaw and Arthur Shrewsbury. The first Tour had the team playing 19 games of Aussie rules football, but the concept soon developed and the first officially sanctioned Tour to the Southern Hemisphere was organised in 1891. It wasn’t until 1899 that a Lions team was made up of players representing the four home nations of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland - a tradition that continues today.
The stamps were presented on a sheet that followed The British & Irish Lions as they toured the country. Each stamp showed a region of New Zealand where the Lions faced off against a New Zealand team, with their fans supporting them at every game. The colours of each region had been incorporated into the stamps, as was detail that represented each location. For example, Dunedin has a tartan, which is representative of its highland ancestry, Auckland’s Sky Tower rises above hibiscus flowers and Rotorua’s famous hot pools are represented by curling grey koru.
The green map of New Zealand used intricate detailing to depict New Zealand’s rugby history and culture, such as a rugby ball representing the New Zealand Rugby Museum in Palmerston North and a rugby player in the Nelson region representing the first rugby game in New Zealand, which took place at the Botanics in 1870.
To the left of the map, a stylised player from the New Zealand and The British & Irish Lions teams were depicted coming together in a hongi. The hongi is a sacred Māori physical embrace where two people become one by pressing noses and foreheads together.
A Roaring First Day Cover
A first day cover was available as part of this issue and featured the seven gummed stamps affixed. The design included a stylised Lion with a strong red colour theme – reflecting The British & Irish Lions rich heritage.
|Take a look at the commemorative coins that were also part of this issue. Click here to find out more.|
Product Listing for The British & Irish Lions 2017 Tour to New Zealand
Click on image to enlarge.
|Set of Stamps||Mint, used or cancelled sheet of seven x $2.70 stamps.||$18.90|
|First Day Cover||First day cover with seven gummed stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue.||$19.40|
|Date of issue:||3 May 2017|
|Number of stamps:||Seven gummed stamps|
|Sheet and first day cover designed by:||Dave Burke Design, New Zealand|
|Printer and process:||Southern Colour Print Ltd by offset lithography|
|Number of colours:||Four process colours plus high gloss Litho varnish|
|Stamp size and format:||35.71mm x 25mm (horizontal)|
|Paper type:||Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||Seven|
|Perforation gauge:||14.4 x 14.62|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 6 April 2018. First day covers remained on sale until 2 July 2017.|