2021 Stamp Programme



03 February 2021

03 February 2021

Pride 2021 (1 stamp)







New Zealand Post (Māori: Tukurau Aotearoa) is a state-owned enterprise responsible for providing postal service in New Zealand.

Postal services in New Zealand have existed since at least 1831, when the Postmaster-General of New South Wales deputed a Bay of Islands merchant to receive and return mail. Official postal services started in New Zealand after Captain William Hobson arrived in the Bay of Islands and took up his role as Lieutenant-Governor. Hobson appointed William Clayton Hayes as Clerk to the Bench of Magistrates and Postmaster and the first official post office was opened at Kororareka, now called Russell. Hayes holds the distinction of New Zealand’s first civil servant to be dismissed as he neglected his duty and was continually inebriated. By 1845 post offices had also been opened at Rawene, Auckland, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Wellington, Nelson and Akaroa.

The establishment of settlements across North and South Islands meant the need for an internal postal service was becoming more and more important, however New Zealand’s geography, and ongoing wars between Maori and Europeans and intertribal fighting hindered communication. At the time, shipping mail coast-to-coast, although inefficient, was the most reliable means of transporting mail around the country. A monthly shipping service to Sydney, where mail was exchanged with outbound and inbound London ships saw the first regular overseas mail service established.

In these initial years, only a small number of post offices were established. Postal services expanded greatly from the mid-1850s, with the Local Posts Act of 1856 giving provincial councils the authority to create their own mail services and local post offices, while the Government continued to maintain the overland trunk postal routes and the head post office in each province.

Postage stamps have been issued in New Zealand since around 18 to 20 July 1855 with the “Chalon head” stamps figuring Queen Victoria. The design was based on a full face portrait of the Queen in her state robes at the time of her coronation in 1837, by Alfred Edward Chalon. The stamps were initially hand cut from sheets, but from 1862 on, these sheets started being fed through automatic perforating machines. The Chalon heads were used until 1874 when the lithographed sideface stamps in various designs replaced them.

The Post Office Act of 1858 repealed the Local Posts Act, establishing the Post Office Department as a government department, reporting to the Postmaster General, and providing for its administration. By 1880 there were 856 post offices.

The Post Office Department was merged with the Electric Telegraph Department in 1881 to create the New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department.

On 1 January 1901, New Zealand introduced one penny universal postage from New Zealand to any country in the world willing to deliver them. Australia, the United States, France and Germany would not accept such letters, fearful of having to reduce their own postal charges to match. This also halved the cost of mailing letters within New Zealand.

While concern was expressed that Post Office revenues would fall, mail volumes increased sharply and by 1902 any losses had been recovered.

The Post Office entered the 20th century as a burgeoning government department with over 1,700 branches. Rapid growth of the Post Office continued throughout the century, with its broad role as post office, savings bank and telephone exchange cementing its place in New Zealand society. Public demand for its services, including the growth of private telephones in people’s homes, and the introduction of internal and international airmail services in the 1930s, enabling faster, more efficient mail services, ensured its future.

New Zealand was the first country in the world to prototype and install stamp vending machines; one was installed in the General Post Office, Wellington in 1905.

The idea of issuing health stamps in New Zealand originated in the late 1920s. Initial credit is given to a 1926 request by Mr E Nielsen of Norsewood on behalf of his mother that special fundraising for deserving health projects. Letters and articles promoting the idea appeared in newspaper articles in subsequent years, although the official suggestion for the issue of a stamp is credited to the secretary of the Post Office Department, Mr. G. M’Namara.

The stamps were modeled on Christmas Seals, first issued in Denmark in 1904 and subsequently in other countries. While in other countries Christmas Seals were charity labels that could be affixed to mail along with postage stamp, the New Zealand seals combined both postage and charity in a single label.

The New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department was renamed the New Zealand Post Office in 1959. By the middle of the century, the Post Office was a complex and financially successful organization – fulfilling political, social and economic needs. Its role in the community was expansive. Beyond the traditional communication services, the Post Office provided important community services including registering births, marriages, deaths and cars, accepting television and fishing license fees, enrolling people to vote, and collecting pensions. Post Offices also provided daily weather and temperature checks for the Meteorological Office, and postmasters were able to perform marriage ceremonies. Throughout the 20th century the Post Office was New Zealand’s biggest employer.

In the 1960s and 70s steps were taken towards better managing the ever-increasing volumes of national and international mail: the installation of New Zealand’s first mechanical mail sorting machine in the Auckland parcel depot, and the introduction of address postal codes to simplify bulk mail sorting. However, increasingly the tension between political and commercial pressures meant the business was not operating efficiently.

By the 1980s, the variety of roles, the sometimes-conflicting needs of three different businesses, and political considerations were major constraints on the Post Office. It was increasingly unable to meet growing consumer demands and the postal side alone was losing over $20 million a year, with expectations that this would balloon in the future.

In 1985, Jonathan Hunt, Postmaster General, ordered a review of the organizational and management structure of the Post Office. The subsequent Mason-Morris report of 1986 called for sweeping changes, separating the three core businesses to operate as independent State-owned corporations.

On 1 April 1987, the department was abolished under the Postal Services Act 1987, and three state-owned enterprises (SOEs) were formed, responsible to the Minister of State Owned Enterprises, initially from 14 August 1989 Stan Rodger:

  • New Zealand Post Limited
  • Telecom New Zealand Limited
  • Post Office Bank Limited

Of these, due to privatization, only New Zealand Post remains as an SOE. Telecom was sold to two United States Baby Bells, and PostBank was sold to the Pacific banking conglomerate Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ). The PostBank brand was phased out by the late-1990s. Telecom was floated on the New Zealand Stock Exchange in the early 1990s, per the conditions of its privatization.

In 2001, Kiwibank, a new government-owned bank, was established as a subsidiary of NZ Post.

One of the ways New Zealand Post is trying to make up for lost revenue due to fewer people sending letters is partnering with other companies. The Post on 3 April 2017 announced that it will work with fast food restaurant chain KFC to have postal drivers deliver KFC’s food to customers. The partnership will be piloted in the northern city of Tauranga, then expanded to more locations across New Zealand.

New Zealand Post is responsible for deciding on stamp design and stamp production. Only New Zealand Post is allowed to “issue postage stamps that bear the words “New Zealand,” according to New Zealand law. Each year the Post’s stamp business unit sets how many stamps it will issue and what the stamps will depict. The Post considers suggestions from New Zealand citizens and people around the world when deciding the subject of stamps. It also works with organizations to create commemorative stamps. For example, in 2014, the Post collaborated with Air New Zealand to issue a stamp for the airline’s 75th anniversary.

Once a decision on the stamp’s subject is made, the Post asks at least two designers to draw a sketch, from which the final design is chosen. There are four things each stamp design must include: the stamp’s denomination, the words New Zealand, a fern, one of the country’s unofficial symbols, and a description of what the stamp depicts. Finally, the Post uses printers from around the world to print the stamps – it does not print them itself.

New Zealand’s first stamp was issued by New Zealand Post’s predecessor, the Post Office Department of the New Zealand government, in 1855. The stamp depicted Queen Victoria, then the Queen of New Zealand, and was printed in one penny, two pence and one shilling denominations.

Contact Information:

New Zealand Post:  Website

Additional Information:

New Zealand



New Zealand (Māori: Aotearoa) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses — the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu) — and more than 700 smaller islands, covering a total area of 268,021 square kilometres (103,500 square miles). New Zealand is about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) south of the islands of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. The country’s varied topography and sharp mountain peaks, including the Southern Alps, owe much to tectonic uplift and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand’s capital city is Wellington, and its most populous city is Auckland.

Owing to their remoteness, the islands of New Zealand were the last large habitable lands to be settled by humans. Between about 1280 and 1350, Polynesians began to settle in the islands and then developed a distinctive Māori culture. In 1642, the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands. In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire, and in 1907 it became a dominion; it gained full statutory independence in 1947, and the British monarch remained the head of state. Today, the majority of New Zealand’s population of 5 million is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Reflecting this, New Zealand’s culture is mainly derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration. The official languages are English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language, with English being very dominant.

A developed country, New Zealand ranks highly in international comparisons, particularly in education, protection of civil liberties, government transparency, and economic freedom. It underwent major economic changes during the 1980s, which transformed it from a protectionist to a liberalized free-trade economy. The service sector dominates the national economy, followed by the industrial sector, and agriculture; international tourism is a significant source of revenue. Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the prime minister, currently Jacinda Ardern. Queen Elizabeth II is the country’s monarch and is represented by a governor-general, currently Dame Patsy Reddy. In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes. The Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing states in free association with New Zealand); and the Ross Dependency, which is New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica.

New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ASEAN Plus Six, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum.

The Flag of New Zealand (Māori: Te haki o Aotearoa), also known as the New Zealand Ensign, is based on the British maritime Blue Ensign – a blue field with the Union Jack in the canton or upper hoist corner – augmented or defaced with four red stars centered within four white stars, representing the Southern Cross constellation.

New Zealand’s first flag, the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand, was adopted in 1834, six years before New Zealand’s separation from New South Wales and creation as a separate colony following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Chosen by an assembly of Māori chiefs at Waitangi in 1834, the flag was of a St George’s Cross with another cross in the canton containing four stars on a blue field. After the formation of the colony in 1840, British ensigns began to be used. The current flag was designed and adopted for use on the colony’s ships in 1869, was quickly adopted as New Zealand’s national flag, and given statutory recognition in 1902.

For several decades there has been debate about changing the flag. In 2016, a two-stage binding referendum on a flag change took place with voting on the second final stage closing on 24 March. In this referendum, the country voted to keep the existing flag by 57% to 43%.

The flag should be rectangular in shape and its length should be two times its width, translating into an aspect ratio of 1:2. It has a royal blue background with a Union Jack in the canton, and four five-pointed red stars centered within four five-pointed white stars on the fly (outer or right-hand side). The exact colors are specified as Pantone 186 C (red), Pantone 280 C (blue), and white. According to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the government department responsible for the flag, the royal blue background is “reminiscent of the blue sea and sky surrounding us”, and the stars “signify [New Zealand’s] place in the South Pacific Ocean”.

The Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act 1981 governs the usage of the national flag and all other official flags. This Act, like most other laws, can be amended or repealed by a simple majority in Parliament. Section 5(2) of the Act declares the flag to be “the symbol of the Realm, Government, and people of New Zealand”. Section 11(1) outlines two offences: altering the flag without lawful authority, and using, displaying, damaging or destroying the flag in or within view of a public place with the intention of dishonoring it.

The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage has authority to prescribe when and how the flag should be flown and what the standard sizes, dimensions, proportions and colors should be. In its advisory role, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage has issued guidelines to assist persons in their use of the flag. No permission is needed to fly the flag, and it may be flown on every day of the year  — government and public buildings with flagpoles are especially encouraged to fly the flag during working hours. However, it should never be flown in a dilapidated condition.

Unlike some other countries there is no single official “Flag Day” in New Zealand, and no pledge of allegiance to the flag. Flag flying may be encouraged on certain commemorative days, at the discretion of the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

The flag is usually only used as a vehicle flag by certain high-ranking officeholders, including: the Prime Minister and other ministers; ambassadors and high commissioners (when overseas); and the Chief of Defence Force. In such cases, no distinguishing defacement or fringing of the flag is used.

The flag is flown at half-mast in New Zealand — always at the discretion of the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage — to indicate a period of mourning. Notable occasions on which the flag was half-masted include: the death of former prime minister David Lange, and the death and state funeral of mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary. When the flag is flown at half-mast, it should be lowered to a position recognizably at half-mast to avoid the appearance of a flag which has accidentally fallen away from the top of the flagpole; the flag should be at least its own height from the top of the flagpole.

The coat of arms of New Zealand (Māori: Te Tohu Pakanga o Aotearoa) is the heraldic symbol representing the South Pacific island country of New Zealand. Its design reflects New Zealand’s history as a bicultural nation, with a European female figure on one side and a Māori rangatira (chief) on the other. The symbols on the central shield represent New Zealand’s trade, agriculture and industry, and a Crown represents New Zealand’s status as a constitutional monarchy.

The initial coat of arms was granted by warrant of King George V on 26 August 1911, and the current version was granted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1956. While the use of the coat of arms is restricted to the New Zealand Government, the symbol enjoys wide use on state decorations; it appears on the uniform of the police and is on the cover of the national passport.

The coat of arms depicts a shield with four quadrants divided by a central “pale”:

  • The first quadrant depicts the four stars on the national flag, representing the asterism within the constellation of Crux; the second quadrant depicts a golden fleece, representing the nation’s farming industry; the third depicts a sheaf of wheat for agriculture; and the fourth quadrant depicts crossed hammers for mining.
  • The pale depicts three ships, representing the importance of sea trade, and the immigrant nature of all New Zealanders.
  • The dexter supporter is a European woman carrying the flag of New Zealand, while the sinister supporter is a Māori rangatira (chief) holding a taiaha (fighting weapon) and wearing a kaitaka (flax cloak).
  • The female figure is said to be a depiction of Zealandia, a common national personification of New Zealand during the first half of the 20th century. It also broadly represents all “non-indigenous citizens of the country”.
  • The shield is surmounted by a rendition of St. Edward’s Crown, which has been used in the coronations of New Zealand’s monarchs. The Crown also represents New Zealand’s historic ties to the United Kingdom.
  • Below is a scroll with “New Zealand” on it, behind which (constituting the “heraldic compartment” on which the supporters stand) are two fern branches, representing the native vegetation.