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

Tuia 250: Michel Tuffery's Artistic Journey of Discovery

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When Tupaia, an arioi priest and navigator from Ra‘iātea, guided Lieutenant James Cook and the Endeavour from Tahiti to Aotearoa in 1769, a reconnection was made between Māori and their ancestral homelands. As featured on these stamps, New Zealand artist Michel Tuffery has created original artworks in response to his discoveries about where his personal history meets that of these first encounters.

Issue information

Through artworks by New Zealand painter Michel Tuffery, this stamp issue illuminates the role of arioi priest and navigator Tupaia in guiding Lieutenant James Cook and the Endeavour from Tahiti to Aotearoa in 1769.

Individual Stamps

$1.30 A messenger from Ra’iāte 

Here, the white heron/ kōtuku is a messenger of connection looking towards Opoutama, a site of significant exchanges between Tupaia and Ūawa tangata whenua.

$1.30 Taiato and Young Nick, the adventurers arrive in Aotearoa, 1769 

Tupaia’s nephew Taiato appears here alongside a fellow 12-year-old boy from the other side of the world. It was Nicholas Young who sighted land from the Endeavour’s masthead on 6 October 1769.

$2.60 Te Maro and Solander, two intellectuals from opposite sides of the world, 1769 

Te Maro’s descendent Nick Tupara is depicted here in place of his ancestor who was killed at this tragic first meeting of Māori and British at the Tūranganui River.

$3.30 Parkinson at Opoutama, 1769 

White blossoms of Tahitian tiare maori join Aotearoa’s vibrant red ngutukākā/kākābeak in this portrait of natural history artist Sydney Parkinson that celebrates his relationship with Tupaia.

$4.00 Not another Kuki story 

Here we see Tupaia as migratory tuna, guiding Cook on his voyage and translating between people long separated yet always connected – seeds sown from Ra’iātea.


Miniature Sheet and First Day Covers

The first day cover features a drawing of the Endeavour, one of a series of sketches drawn by Michel Tuffery over his time traveling and researching the history of this ship’s journey to Aotearoa New Zealand. The miniature sheet features a detailed section of the Kōtuku painting featured on one of the two $1.30 stamps, and the miniature sheet first day cover continues the green, koru pattern background of the miniature sheet.

Presentation Pack

Tuffery’s paintings explore the roles played by Tupaia, his arioi acolyte and nephew Taiato, and members of Cook’s crew whose legacies have received little attention. Find out more about the untold history of Tupaia and these first encounters between Europeans and Māori with this presentation pack, written by University of Auckland Senior Research Fellow Dr. Billie Lythberg.

Limited Edition

One of only 2,000 produced, a uniquely numbered limited edition is the ultimate collector’s item for this issue. Each includes a unique numbered miniature sheet, a unique first day cover signed by Michel Tuffery, a colour separation of the Not another Kuki story stamp, and a booklet on the history of Tupaia and Lieutenant James Cook’s journey from Tahiti to New Zealand.  

Technical information

Date of issue: 2 October 2019
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Denominations: $1.30 x 2, $2.60, $3.30, $4.00
Stamps, miniature sheet and first day covers designed by: Saint Andrew Matautia, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours plus overgloss
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 38mm (vertical)
Miniature sheet size and format: 115mm x 106mm (horizontal)
Paper type:  Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet:  25
Perforation gauge: 14 x 14.167
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks may be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks are available in A and B formats.
Period of sale: Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 1 October 2020. First day covers will remain on sale until 27 November 2019.