Friday, 21 November 2014

1993 - Second Heritage Series - Emerging Years 1930s

The 1930s.
        In stark contrast to the previous carefree decade, the 1930s brought hardship and strife to most New Zealanders. By the end of 1931 the country was firmly in the grip of a worldwide economic depression. It was not until Labour's landslide election victory in 1935 that the tide turned. Little did New Zealanders know that their bright new vision of the future would last just four years before they were plunged into the bloodiest World War in history. 

        I did not experience the Great Depression myself but I've heard a lot about it from my parents and uncles, aunties etc. There are the funny stories about the guy who used waste solvent from a printing factory to run his car. Bright coloured smoke coming out the back. Or the stories of rationing, swapping food and vegetables, no work and long dole lines of men waiting for work. Both my grand-fathers worked more than one job.  

         Many people got over it as times got better but equally many never did. They always saved everything, ready for when times get hard. Never wanting to borrow money or get into debt. Always ensuring debt is repaid, right down to the last penny. These are habits from the tough times of the 1930s, The Great Depression.   

45c - Buttons and Bows.                               50c - The Great Depression.

Buttons and Bows - 45c
The boyish figure popularised by the 20s flapper vanished completely in the 1930s to be replaced by a far more feminine style of dress. Those who could afford the fashions of the era dressed in frills, flounces, florals and wide brimmed hats. Labour was plentiful and cheap so manufacturers added detailed handwork to garments and accessories. Long and elaborately curled hairstyles were once again the fashionable look.

The Great Depression - 80c
The Great Depression hit those who were already poor the hardest. Many of the unemployed men were sent to government relief camps far away from their families. There they lived in appalling conditions carrying out hard manual labour for a pitiful few shillings a week. Many works around Auckland, such as the scenic drive through the Waitakere Ranges, was done at this time to keep men employed.

Relief stations in the cities doled out meagre food parcels to those who could prove they were on the brink of starvation. Hunger turned to rage and in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin unemployed workers rioted in rebellion against the wretched times and the government.

   90c - Phar Lap.                                          $1.00 - State Housing.

Phar Lap - 90c
Phar Lap, nick-named 'Big Red', was arguably the greatest horse this country has ever produced. At a massive 17.1 hands, he was also one of the largest thoroughbreds on record. He began his legendary career in the early 30s. As a four year old he won the Melbourne Cup and went on to accumulate a tremendous 70,121 Pounds Sterling in race earnings. Carrying 39 pounds more than the lowest weighted horse he streaked to victory in the rich Agua Caliente Handicap in Mexico. Less than three weeks later he died suddenly and tragically of an unknown illness.

State Housing - $1.00
It was not until the Labour Government swept to power in 1935 that the chronic state of the country's housing problems became apparent. The government immediately set out to overcome the shortage, putting the fiery John A Lee in charge of implementing its ambitious policy. The first state house was occupied in 1937 by the McGregor family of Miramar, Wellington. By the end of 1939 the government was providing 5,000 new state houses a year.

$1.50 - Free Milk for School Children. 
$1.80 - The Talkies.

Free Milk for Schools - $1.50
Free milk for school children was first suggested during the Depression when thousands of New Zealand children lived on the borderline of malnutrition and dairy farmers had a huge milk surplus. But it was not until 1935 when Labour swept to power that the milk scheme was introduced and children received a free half pint bottle at each morning break.
Even when I was going to school in the late 50s and early 60s, the school still received a delivery of milk each day which had to be drank before we could go out and play.

The Talkies - $1.80
The golden age of cinema began in New Zealand on 18 April 1929 when the first part-talking feature played to packed audiences at both the Regent and Strand theatres in Auckland. Throughout the 30s the 'talkies' increased in popularity. Many of the country's picture theatres, built during the vaudeville era, were modernised in the art deco style. Their empty orchestra pits were covered over or filled with greenery. 

 First Day Cover.
The First Day Cover design for this issue showed a family standing looking at 'modern' transport of a passenger ship, a flying boat (such as the national airline once used) and a road vehicle. A special postal cancellation was designed as well.
First Day Cover - 17 February 1993

Technical information

            Date of issue: 17 February 1993
            Designer: Ross Jones, Wellington, NZ
            Printer:Leigh-Mardon, Australia
            Stamp size: 28mm x 40mm
            Sheet size:100 stamps per sheet
            Process: Lithography
            Perforation gauge:    14.25 x 14
            Paper type: Peterborough Paper Convertors, red phosphor coated, unwatermarked
            Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 17 February 1993.

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

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