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
The 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 Wellington:
1840 - The signing of the Treaty of Waitangi
marked the beginning of organised British colonisation of New Zealand.
1852 - 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
1901 - New Zealand did not ratify the Australian
Constitution, and rejected membership of the Australian
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
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 Britain
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."
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
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'. 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 Universal
(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
The 8d Blue stamp was issued in 1916 to cover an
increase in postal rates for telegrams and parcels.