By 1931 several of the plates for the King George V stamps were noticeably
worn. Given that the design of the 1926 Admirals issue had been severely
criticised, the authorities decided to try the same approach which had
worked so well in 1898 - a design competition for a new set of
If you have any questions or comments please contact us - we'd love to hear from you.
Entries were divided into New Zealand subject groups:
fauna, scenery, Maori art, agricultural, history and sport. Over 1,500
entries were received and designs from eleven contributors were included
in the final set.
The stamps suffered a series of delays though -
printing by photogravure was abandoned in favour of line etching with the
exception of the nine penny stamp which was the first New Zealand stamp
printed by offset lithography. There were also issues with paper quality
and the shilling stamp design was changed before issue.
halfpenny stamp features the Fantail (Piwakawaka) with native Clematis in
the background. The fantail is a very sociable New Zealand native bird
which darts around eating insects.
The penny stamp features the
Kiwi - several species of flightless birds endemic to New Zealand. The
kiwi is also a national symbol of New Zealand.
The 1½d stamp
features a Maori woman cooking food by lowering it in a flax basket or kete
into a boiling geothermal spring.
The twopence stamp features a
traditional Maori Meeting House.
The 2½d stamp is two-tone
with Mount Cook (Aorangi) in the centre bordered on both sides by the
Mount Cook Buttercup (Ranunculus lyallii) - a species of buttercup endemic
to the South Island of New Zealand at altitudes of 700 to 1,500
The threepence stamp features a Maori girl (Wahine) wearing
an intricately woven flax head-band (pare). A Huia feather is in her hair -
a mark of great prestige.
The four penny stamp features a view of
Mitre Peak in Milford Sound.
The 5d stamp features a Striped Marlin
or Swordfish with Piercy Island ("The Hole In The Rock"), a
famous fishing ground for swordfish on the left.
The sixpence stamp
features a horse drawn harvester or reaper, working through a crop of
The eight penny stamp features the native Tuatara - the only
surviving member of the Sphenodontians which flourished around 200 million
years ago. The name "tuatara" derives from the Māori language
meaning "peaks on the back".
The 9d stamp features the
ornamentation from a Maori sliding door panel. This stamp was printed
using offset lithography rather than recess printed like the rest of the
stamps in the issue. The stamp was issued in two main forms. The initial
prints from plates first prepared by Waterlow and Sons and subsequently by
Coulls Somerville Wilkie with the stamp design measuring 18 by 21½
mm are quite variable in colour from dull red, bright red and brick red
with the frame in dull grey, slate grey or black. Later printings from new
plates from Coulls Somerville Wilkie have a smaller design measuring
17½ by 20½ mm (with a subsequently larger white border) and
are consistently scarlet against a shiny black frame. The stamps are best
distinguished by the size of the design as not all of the initial larger
design printings have a grey border.
The shilling stamp features
the Tui - a very intelligent bird much like parrots. They are able to
clearly imitate human speech. The possession of two voiceboxes enable Tui
to perform a myriad of vocalisations.
The two shilling stamp shows
the landing of Captain Cook at Poverty Bay on the 8th of October 1769. The
first encounter with local Maori led to the deaths of six Maori during
skirmishes with the crew due to a misinterpretation of the traditional
Maori challenge. Cook was unable to gain many of the provisions he and his
crew needed at the bay, and for this reason gave it its name.
three shilling stamp shows a pastoral view with Mount Egmont / Mount
Taranaki in the background. Mount Taranaki is a dormant stratovolcano on
the west coast of the North Island. It is geologically young - volcanic
activity commenced around 135,000 years ago.
This page was last updated on 19 Aug 2017
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