Wednesday, 22 October 2014

1990 Heritage Set 5 - The Achievers.

Back to Set 4 - The Ships.                        Forward to Set 6 - The Maori People.

          This issue titled "The Achievers" was the fifth in the 'Heritage ' series of stamps leading up to the 1990 150th anniversary celebrations in New Zealand. The Achievers is a very special stamp issue which salutes some of the people from our past whose achievements have gone largely unheralded by the rest of the world - yet too many New Zealanders, they are legendary for their dedication and courage. Three woman and three men all who in their own way made a difference to the culture and heritage of New Zealand.

Grace Neill / First Maternity Hospital and Nurse Registration.

          Elizabeth Grace Neill (26 May 1846 – 18 August 1926) was a nurse from New Zealand who lobbied for passage of laws requiring training and registration of nurses and midwives in New Zealand. Grace Neill certainly left her mark on New Zealand health and hospitals. The nursing experience she received during her early life inspired her to reform many aspects of the nursing practice. She initiated the registration of nurses - now commonplace around the world.
          Her experience as a factory inspector led her to instigate other social reforms- and was highly influential in raising standards of care through training, examination and instigating legislation.  Grace Neill also set up our first state maternity hospital in Wellington in 1905.  It later became the model for St Helen's hospitals throughout the country.

Jean Batten / Record Breaking Aviator.

          Jean Gardner Batten CBE OSC (15 September 1909 – 22 November 1982) was a New Zealand aviator. Born in Rotorua, she became the best-known New Zealander of the 1930s, internationally, by taking a number of record-breaking solo flights across the world. It was she who in 1936 made the first-ever solo flight from England to New Zealand.
          Jean Batten was undoubtedly New Zealand's greatest aviator. After her solo flights from England to Australia, she then astounded the world by making a series of daring record-breaking flights between Australia and England (1935), England and Brazil (1935) and England and New Zealand (1936).  She completed the later flight in 11 days and 45 minutes. These flights not just became records to be broken but pioneer trailblazing for what would later become important flight-paths between New Zealand and the rest of the world.   
         In her later years, Batten became a recluse and lived in several places around the world with her mother until her mother's death in 1965. In 1977 she was guest of honour at the opening of the Aviation Pioneers Pavilion at Auckland's Museum of Transport and Technology, after which she returned to her home in Spain. In 1982 she was bitten by a dog on the island of Majorca. She refused treatment and the wound became infected. She died alone in a hotel on Majorca, from complications from the dog bite, and was buried on 22 January 1983 in an anonymous grave. A bureaucratic error, however, meant that neither relatives nor most of the world, learned of her death until September 1987.

Katherine Sheppard / First Country with Women's Suffrage.

          Katherine Wilson "Kate" Sheppard (10 March 1847–13 July 1934) was the most prominent member of New Zealand's Women's Suffrage and was the country's most famous suffragette. Katherine Sheppard emigrated to New Zealand from England in 1869.  As a result of her campaigning, our country was the first in the world to award equal voting rights to women.  A social worker and a feminist, she founded the New Zealand Christian Women's Temperance Union.  She then went on to lead New Zealand women in the historic campaign for suffrage.
          She also appears on the New Zealand ten-dollar note. Since New Zealand was the first country to introduce universal suffrage, Sheppard's work has had a considerable impact on women's suffrage movements in other countries around the world.

Richard Pearse / Inventor First Successful Flying Machine.

          Richard William Pearse (3 December 1877 – 29 July 1953) was a New Zealand farmer and inventor who performed pioneering experiments in aviation. It is claimed Pearse flew and landed a powered heavier-than-air machine on 31 March 1903, some nine months before the Wright brothers flew their aircraft
          Was it a Temuka farmer who built the first successful flying machine?  Did he, in fact, beat the Wright brothers with his haphazard test flight over the Waitohi Flat?  Richard Pearse dreamt of building a flying machine.  And according to eyewitness accounts, this pioneer of New Zealand aviation first took to the skies for a 100-metre jaunt - before the Wright Brothers made their historic flight in 1903.
          Pearse himself never made such claims, and in an interview, he gave to the Timaru Post in 1909 he claimed he did not "attempt anything practical...until 1904". He was not a publicity-seeker and also occasionally made contradictory statements, which for many years led some of the few who knew of his feats to offer 1904 as the date of his first flight.

Bernard Freyberg / War Hero and Governor General.

          Lieutenant General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO & Three Bars (21 March 1889 – 4 July 1963) was a British-born soldier and Victoria Cross recipient, who later served as the seventh Governor-General of New Zealand from 1946 to 1952.
          A veteran of the Mexican Revolution, he became an officer in the British Army during the First World War. Freyberg took part in the beach landings during the Gallipoli Campaign and was the youngest general in the British Army during the First World War, later serving on the Western Front where he was decorated with the Victoria Cross and three DSOs, making him one of the most highly decorated British Empire officers of the First World War. He liked to be in the thick of the action — Winston Churchill called him "the Salamander" due to his ability to pass through fire unharmed.
          During the Second World War, he commanded the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Battle of Crete, the North African Campaign and the Italian Campaign. Freyberg was involved in the Allied defeat in the Battle of Greece, defeated again as the Allied commander in the Battle of Crete and performed successfully in the North African Campaign commanding the New Zealand division, including the Battle of El Alamein.

Peter Buck / Scientist War Hero and Cabinet Minister.

          Te Rangi Hīroa, also known as Sir Peter Henry Buck, KCMG, DSO (ca. October 1877 – 1 December 1951), was a prominent member of the Ngāti Mutunga Māori iwi. He was a doctor, military leader, health administrator, politician, anthropologist and museum director.
          Peter Buck graduated from Otago University in 1904, a sports champion and an outstanding student.  Fascinated with science, he worked tirelessly in this field for most of his life, interrupted only by war.  He was a qualified physician and received numerous accolades for his contribution to science and his courageous military service.  He was elected a Member of Parliament in 1909 and later reached the rank of Cabinet Minister.

 The First Day Cover.
Since two of the "Achievers" above were pioneer aviation the First Day Cover for this issue carried a theme of aviation. Both, Richard Pearse's original 1903 flying machine and Jean Batten's Percival Gull Six, are shown on the cover along with all six stamps.

 The Auckland Airport International Terminal is named after Jean Batten. The Percival Gull Six G-ADPR in which she made the first ever solo trip from England to New Zealand in 1936 and many other record-breaking trips, now hangs in the Jean Batten International Terminal.

The South Canterbury Museum in Timaru includes display material relating to Pearse and to his contribution to early aviation. There is also a replica aeroplane on display
 Adding some confusion to the issue, the tilt-propeller aircraft Pearse later worked on, bears a very close resemblance to the original aircraft, and remains at MOTAT in Auckland, though while it is presented as a single machine, it may very well come from three separate machines including the original 1903 machine.

Printing Flaw.

The 1990 Heritage First Day Cover with a flaw on 50c value. The flaw which was actually dirt on the printing surface can be seen as two white gaps 5 of the 50c. This is unusual to get a flaw like this on an FDC but what would have made it even better is if the cover showed some evidence of having travelled through the postal system.
Below is a closer view of this flaw cropped from the image above.

Technical information.
Date of issue: 16 May 1990.
Designers: Elspeth Williamson, Auckland.
Printers: Leigh-Mardon, Australia.
Stamp size: 40mm x 28mm'
Denominations: 40c, 50c, 60c, 80c, $1.00, $1.50.
Sheet size: 100 stamps per sheet.
Process: Lithography.
Perforation gauge: 14 x 14.25.
Paper type: Red phosphor coated, unwatermarked.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 16 May 1991.

Back to Set 4 - The Ships.                        Forward to Set 6 - The Maori People.

Some of the images in this post were used with permission from the illustrated catalogue of StampsNZ
You can visit their website and On-line Catalogue at,

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