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New Zealand



1855, sterling.
1967, 100 cents = 1 NZ dollar.

British Dominion situated 1600 miles east and south of Australia. It comprises two main islands, North and South Islands, and a number of smaller territories. It was first discovered in December 1642 by the Dutch explorer, Tasman, who landed and named it Staaten Island. It was again visited by Cook in 1769-70 when he circumnavigated the islands. He returned in 1773-7 and formally annexed the islands in the name of King George III but this was not ratified by the British Government. However, in spite of this, British missionaries and whalers began to settle the area in the early 19th century.

In 1839 the New Zealand Company was formed and began to acquire land from the Maoris. In 1840, because it was feared that the islands might be annexed by the French, a British party under Captain Hobson was sent, with instructions to conclude treaties with the Maori chiefs. In 1854 the island was granted self-government and this became effective in 1856.

There had been intermittent armed strife with the natives during the 1840s, mainly over land disputes. In March 1860 there was a major insurrection against the colony and it was only brought under control when troops were brought from Australia and Britain. Peace was signed in July 1866 but, when 150 Maoris escaped from Chatham Island where they were imprisoned, war broke out again in July 1868. Fighting continued for some time and it was not until December 1870 that the main body was finally dispersed. The Maori King, Tawihiao, finally submitted in February 1875. The British troops which had been engaged in the wars left in 1876.

Gold had been discovered in 1853 and 1861 leading to an influx in population which rose from 84,000 in 1860 to 490,000 in 1881.

On 26 September 1907 the colony was constituted as the Dominion of New Zealand. During World War I New Zealand forces were involved in most theatres of war but especially in the Dardanelles campaign.

After the war, Western Samoa (q.v.) was entrusted to New Zealand as a mandate under the League of Nations. The Cook Islands (q.v.) and Tokalau Islands (q.v.) are also included in the Dominion, together with the Ross Dependency (q.v.) in the Antarctic.

Postal History
As is the case with many of the Pacific areas, the first correspondence emanated from British missionaries. Few ships arrived at the islands and these carried the mail in both directions.

In 1831 regular communication was established with Sydney, but there was no official P0. A charge of 4d was made for mail in either direction. This was followed, in 1840, by the first PO which was established in Kororarika. Later in the same year five other POs were opened, including Port Nicholson (subsequently Wellington) and Auckland.

Overseas mail was still controlled by Sydney, which acted as the forwarding office for mail to and from New Zealand. As the letters were held for the first available ship, many delays occurred and the New South Wales PO was unfairly blamed for this.

The Post Office was under control of the GPO in Britain until 1848, but after that date the colony took control of its own affairs. The first POs on the South Island were opened at Nelson and Akaroa in 1842. By 1843 there were nine POs and three receiving houses and the Controlling Office had been moved to Auckland. During the 1840s a series of overland routes were established but the difficulty of the terrain and the state of relations with the natives meant that the sea route from Auckland to Wellington via Sydney, which could take three months, was more reliable. This use of sea- borne carriage continued for many years and it was not until 1878 that the first main railway link between Wellington and Auckland was completed.

When stamps were first issued there were 16 POs and sub-offices and four receiving houses where letters could be received but no charges were collected. By 1858 the New Zealand Post Office Act was passed and this regularized rates throughout the colony.

Circular barred numerals were issued to each of the major POs in 1855. These were numbered 1 to 18. In 1860 this series was extended with additional numbers up to 24. Further types were issued, and during the Maori Wars cancellations with the name of the POs in an oval of bars were also used. These include 'Headquarters' and 'Queens Redoubt'.

In 1858 a short-lived service to Britain via Panama was established. There was no additional charge for this service, but there was insufficient mail from New Zealand alone to sustain the route. Subsequently, other services were established and until World War I and later it was possible for letters to be carried in either direction.

Between the wars there was a demand for the establishment of an air connection with Australia to connect with the service to Britain. There were many early attempts to connect the towns in New Zealand by air. These started in 1919. By 1930 mail was being carried by sea to Karachi to connect with the London flight. This was followed in July of that year by a quicker route connecting with the Adelaide-Perth flight and then by sea to Karachi. The Trans-Tasman service began in 1934 and by 1938 New Zealand was included in the Empire 'all-up' service.

New Zealand forces served in the South African War of 1899-1902, but used the British Forces Postal Service. In World War I there were special postmarks in Egypt and on the Western Front. In World War II New Zealand forces had Field POs in the Middle East, Italy, Fiji, Norfolk Island, Tonga, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands.

In recent years New Zealand has followed a policy of issuing many stamps with many interesting designs reflecting not only the general history but also Maori subjects. In the 1990s the Post Office was privatised for the handling and delivery of internal mail, although New Zealand Post retained the monopoly for overseas mail handling.

Auckland Islands

Group of uninhabited islands 300 miles south of New Zealand. In 1866 the General Grant was wrecked there. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to salvage her. In 1915 a major attempt was made and two stamps were issued. These were unauthorized and, although some were accepted without surcharge in New Zealand, they had no postal validity.

Chatham Islands

Small group of islands 500 miles east of Christchurch. They were discovered in 1790. A P0 was established in 1856 and the group was used as a prison for Maori insurgents after the war of 1860-6.

New Zealand stamps were used and are still current. These can only be recognized by their postmark. In December 1970 two stamps were issued inscribed 'Chatham Islands', but these were for use throughout New Zealand and not specifically for the islands.

Great Barrier Island

Island situated 50 miles north-east of Auckland. First P0 was established as 'Port Fitzroy'. In October 1892 the Union steamer Wairarapa en route from Sydney to Auckland was wrecked with the loss of 125 lives. Mail was salvaged and marked with a cachet before delivery. Until 1897 there was no regular communication with the mainland and in May of that year a pigeon post was established. This operated until 1908, when cable communication was established by the Government. Several POs now exist on the island but these can only be recognized by their postmarks.

New Zealand to 1907
Click map for larger view

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