King Edward VII (9th November 1841 - 6 May 1910) was King of the United
Kingdom, the British Dominions and Emperor of India from the 22nd of
January 1901 until his death on the 6th of May 1910. Before finally
becoming king, Edward held the title of Prince of Wales, and has the
dubious distinction of being heir apparent to the throne longer than anyone
else in British history.
It is rather puzzling then that New Zealand
stamps bearing the King's head were not issued until November 1909, and
even then they were not distributed widely until stocks of the pictorials
had been exhausted. Once issued, most values remained on sale until 1915,
and the five penny and eight penny stamps were still in use in 1920, ten
years after King Edward's death. The one penny dominion was still in
use until 1926.
The Imperial Conference of 1907
granted the self-governing colonies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and
Newfoundland the status of Dominion. This recognized these territories as
autonomous communities within the British Empire, and established them as
equals to the United Kingdom, making them essentially independent members
of the Commonwealth of Nations. In many ways, this issue was a celebration
of New Zealand's new-found independence and "Dominion of New
Zealand' appears proudly at the top of each stamp.
progression of New Zealand from British colony to independent country has
been an extremely drawn out and at many stages reluctant journey - often
prompted by legislative changes from Westminster rather than
1840 - The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi marked the
beginning of organised British colonisation of New Zealand.
The British Parliament passed the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 to
grant the colony's settlers the right to self-governance in domestic
matters. The New Zealand Parliament was still bound by a number of Acts of
the British Parliament.
1869 - Creation of New Zealand
1901 - New Zealand did not ratify the Australian Constitution,
and rejected membership of the Australian Commonwealth
1907 - On the
26th of September the United Kingdom granted New Zealand
"Dominion" status within the British empire. This date was
declared Dominion Day. However, Westminster still retained control over New
Zealand's foreign affairs and the military.
1919 - Prime
Minister Bill Massey signed the Treaty of Versailles giving New Zealand
membership of the League of Nations. This indicated that New Zealand had
asserted a degree of control over foreign affairs. However, New Zealand
signed along with other Dominions as part of a "British Empire
Delegation" and all names were indented in a list following that of
1921 - At the Imperial Conference British Prime Minister
Lloyd George stated: "In recognition of their service and achievements
during the war, the British Dominions have now been accepted fully into the
comity of the nations of the whole world. They are signatories to the
Treaty of Versailles and all other treaties of peace. They are members of
the Assembly of the League of Nations, and their representatives have
already attended meetings of the League. In other words, they have achieved
full national status and they now stand beside the United Kingdom as equal
partners in the dignities and responsibilities of the British Commonwealth.
If there are any means by which that status can be rendered even more clear
to their own communities and to the world at large, we shall be glad to
have them put forward."
1926 - The Balfour Declaration declared
the Dominions as autonomous Communities, equal and in no way subordinate in
any aspect of their domestic or external affairs. For practical purposes
this had the effect of acknowledging New Zealand's control over foreign
policy and military.
1931 - The Statute of Westminster created the
legal basis for independence established by the Balfour Declaration, but
did not take effect until each Dominion chose to adopt it. It was prompted
by nationalist elements in South Africa and the Irish Free State. Both
Australia and New Zealand were hostile towards this development.
1939 - the Governor-General ceased to be Britain's High
Commissioner to New Zealand - instead an independent officer was appointed.
On the 3rd of September, New Zealand declared war on Germany at the same
time as Britain - the declaration of war is normally regarded as an
indication of sovereignty.
1944 - The New Zealand government
announced the intention to adopt the Statute of Westminster. There was a
strong outcry that this would weaken the British Empire in a time of need
and the decision was deferred.
1947 - The Statute of Westminster was
finally ratified by New Zealand as New Zealand legally accepted
independence. The New Zealand Parliament accepted full legislative powers,
extra-territorial control of the New Zealand military and legally separated
the New Zealand Crown from the British Crown.
1949 - In accordance
with the New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948, all New Zealanders became New
Zealand citizens but remained British subjects.
1973 - Even during
the 1950s and 1960s many New Zealanders still referred to Britain as
'home' but this attitude began to change when the United Kingdom
joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973. The vast majority of
New Zealand's exports went to Britain at that time, and joining the EEC
forced Britain to sever these trade agreements which pushed New Zealand
into economic recession.
1974 - The Royal Titles Act formally
recognized Queen Elizabeth II as the "Queen of New Zealand" thus
recognising New Zealand as an independent Commonwealth Realm.
For cost reasons, the half penny and penny stamps were surface
printed in sheets of 240 and the remaining stamps were recess printed in
sheets of 120.
The 1909 King Edward VII
dominion' (bottom) retained a similar design to the 1907 Redrawn Pictorials
right) with 'Dominion of' added at the top of the stamp and
'universal postage' appearing on a scroll at the bottom of the
stamp. Both the 1909 King Edward
dominion and 1907 Redrawn
penny stamps have diagonal shading lines on the globe behind
the figure of Zealandia. The 1901 Penny
(top left) has vertical shading on the globe. The wake at the
bow of the steamer is also far more impressive on the 1901 Penny Universal
Blue stamp was issued in 1916 to cover an increase in postal rates for
telegrams and parcels.