Sunday, 7 December 2014

1997 - Millennium Series I - Discoverers.

The first issue in the Millennium Series, leading up to the Year 2000, was called Discoverers. It had the theme of discovering and exploring New Zealand.

Millennium Series Overview.                   Millennium Series II

I was very impressed with this issue when I started to writing about it for this post. It is about six early explorers who visited New Zealand. Of course if we make a list of explorers of New Zealand, the first on our list would be Captain James Cook. There he is on the first stamp, the 40c value. 
The next two stamps are about the Maori explorers and discovers of New Zealand, Maui and Kupe. The final three stamps show the three other famous explorers from this early period. They are two Frenchmen, Jean de Surville, Dumont d'Urville and a Dutchman, Abel Tasman. 
Six Famous men, six amazing stories, six great stamps.

40c - James Cook.                                                  80c - Kupe.                                                 $1.00 - Maui. 

$1.20 - Jean de Surville.                               $1.50 - Dumont d'Urville.                                       $1.80 - Abel Tasman.              

For an index to all our posts on New Zealand Maori.

Maori Mythology.

 Before we begin exploring the subjects of these stamps, I feel an explanation of Maori myths is required here. In this blog, I often quote more than one account or point out that there are differing accounts, from various sources and different tribes. In this, I do not intend any disrespect, my purpose being to bring out the richness of the stories and traditions. To Europeans, there is a need to establish accurate facts but this is not as important to Maoris who are more interested in the result, the explaining of the physical and spiritual world around them.
Below are a list of other posts where I have touched on this, you might be interested in viewing them.   
              2014 Matariki - Papatūānuku and Ranginui.                                        
                      The parting of Papatuanuka (earth mother) from Ranginui (shy father).
             2000 The Volcanic Taniwha Sisters.
                      The bringing of volcanic fire to Aotearoa (New Zealand).
             Pania of the Reef.
                     The tragic love-story of the sea-maiden Pania of the Reef.

The Stamps.

40c - James Cook.
          Captain James Cook, FRS, RN (7 November 1728 – 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. In the early 1760s, Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland and the Saint Lawrence River that helped defeat the French in Canada,
          Still under direction of the Royal Navy he made three voyages of discovery to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. As he progressed on his voyages of discovery he surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions.
           In early October of 1769, English explorer James Cook sailed the Endeavour into Poverty Bay and went ashore. It was the first landing by a European in New Zealand and marked the beginning of a six month circumnavigation during which Cook produced an astonishingly accurate map of the coastline.
          This stamp shows an image of Cook with his famous map of New Zealand and the main navigational instrument of the time, the quadrant. A very nice looking stamp, well laid out to give a clear and uncluttered appearance while achieving a great amount of detail. 

See our collection of Capt. Cook stamps - Captain Cook Stamps of New Zealand.

80c - Kupe.
         The legendary voyager Kupe is a semi-divine figure who appears in the traditions of several Polynesian islands. According to some Maori accounts, he fled from Hawaiki with Kuru-maro-tini after they had killed her husband, Hoturapa, and stole his canoe, Matahorua. During this voyage he discovered New Zealand, which it is said that Kuramārōtini, devised the name of Ao-tea-roa (‘long white cloud’) on seeing the North Island for the first time.  They explored extensively before returning to Hawaiki.
         In another account of Kupe his journey there was triggered by difficulties with fishing in Hawaiki, his homeland. Apparently the problem was a great octopus belonging to Kupe’s competitor, Muturangi. Kupe set out in his canoe to kill the octopus, and such was the length of the pursuit that it brought him to New Zealand. With a companion known as Ngake (or Ngahue) in another canoe called Tāwhirirangi, he pursued the creature all the way to Cook Strait (known as Raukawakawa), where it was finally destroyed.
         Kupe is of most importance in the traditions and place names of the Cook Strait area (such as the landform near Cape Palliser known as Kupe's Sail). This landform is shown on the stamp, along with a 'rock-art' style drawing of Kupe and a double canoe of the type used for long sea voyages. 
        The taniwha Tuhirangi accompanied the legendary explorer Kupe on his voyage of discovery to New Zealand. It was reputed that Kupe placed Tuhirangi in Te Moana-o-Raukawa (Cook Strait) as a guardian.     See 2000 Spirits and Guardians.

  $1.00 - Maui. 
          The mythical figure of Maui is also found in other polynesian cultures. Aborted and thrown into the sea by his mother Taranga, he was rescued and brought up by Rangi, the Sky God. Maui eventually returned to earth where, armed with supernatural powers, he led his older brothers in a series of exploits.  Many of the stories are legendary – the theft of fire, the capture of the sun, the pursuit of immortality, the descent into the underworld in search of his father.
          Maori myth also attributes the creation of New Zealand to Maui. The following story was written by the Ngāti Porou tohunga, Mohi Ruatapu. It begins with Māui fetching the jawbone of his grandmother Muri-ranga-whenua to use as a fish hook. He then goes fishing with his reluctant older brothers. Mohi continues:-
          …his bait was his nose; he punched it, the blood ran down, and he smeared it on the jawbone of his grandparent Muri-ranga-whenua. By the time the jawbone reached the bottom, his fish had bitten on it. Then the canoe was lifted up and its bow was pushed down. His elder brothers cried out in fear … Then his fish came to the surface …That fish continues to lie here as land. It is still inhabited by Māui, his elder brothers and their children. This is the origin of the presence of the Māori ancestors in this island. 

         The gigantic fish he pulled from the sea, is now known as te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui) or the North Island. His canoe became the South Island. Maui's fish hook became the cape which now forms the southernmost tip of Hawkes Bay.
         The events of Maui are of great importance in the world view held by many traditional Maori. The tribal traditions which cite descent from or a relationship with Māui provide a basis for settlement in New Zealand. Descent from Māui is a starting point for tribal tenure of the land.
         A carved meeting house panel depicting Maui, his fish hook and Cape Kidnappers are shown on the stamp.

$1.20 - Jean de Surville.
          In 1767 de Surville set sail in his ship, the St Jean Baptiste to India to trade between the French settlements in India and China. In 1768, while in India, de Surville heard rumours the British had discovered a fabulously wealthy island in the South Pacific, and decided to try to find this island. During the voyage numbers of sick and dying crewmembers forced de Surville to seek a safe anchorage. De Surville followed Tasman's charts, and headed for New Zealand.
          On 12 December 1769 11:30am, the St Jean Baptiste sighted the coastline of New Zealand. At the same time that British explorer, Captain Cook was rounding the top of the North Island in a storm in December 1769, perhaps as close as 40 km to the south-west de Surville the French explorer was battling the same heavy seas. Neither knew, surprisingly, both de Surville and Cook were navigating New Zealand waters at the same time, the only Europeans to do so since Abel Tasman, a century earlier. De Surville, finally anchored in Doubtless Bay where over period around Christmas he made substantial repairs to his ship. 
          De Surville did his best to respect the customs of the local Ngati Kahu tribe, but when a small boat disappeared, he took revenge by burning huts and other Maori possessions, and kidnapping the chief Raninui. After three anchors were lost in a storm, the St Jean Baptiste sailed away to the east. Ranginui died at sea, and de Surville drowned at Chilca, Peru in April 1770.
        The stamp features images of de Surville's ship and the pa site at Tokerau where the ship anchored. De Surville's anchor is also shown, indicative of the three anchors which were lost.

$1.50 - Dumont d'Urville.
         French explorer d'Urville made three voyages to New Zealand. During the second voyage, between 1826 and 1829, he charted the coast of both the North and South Islands extensively and made important botanical and entomological investigations.
         In honour of his many valuable chartings, the D'Urville Sea off Antarctica; D'Urville Island in the Joinville Island group in Antarctica; Cape d'Urville, Irian Jaya, Indonesia; Mount D'Urville, Auckland Island; and D'Urville Island in New Zealand were named after him. The Dumont d'Urville Station on Antarctica is also named after him, as is the Rue Dumont d'Urville, a street near the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.
        An illustration of a crab species discovered on one of his voyages is shown on this stamp. Also depicted is an engraving showing his passage through French Pass which separates D'Urville Island from the mainland in the Marlborough Sounds.

 $1.80 - Abel Tasman.
         Abel Janszoon Tasman (1603 – 10 October 1659) was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company. He was the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) and New Zealand, and to sight the Fiji islands. His navigator François Visscher and his merchant Isaack Gilsemans mapped substantial portions of Australia, New Zealand, and some Pacific Islands.
         In 1642 Tasman had been dispatched by the Dutch East India Company to discover the great continent which was believed to lie in the unknown southern ocean. What he did discover, on 13 December 1642, was New Zealand, which he named 'Staten Landt' believing it might be linked to a Staten Landt close to Cape Horn, discovered in 1616 by another Dutch navigator, Jacob Le Maire. His attempt to land at what is now Golden Bay was thwarted when one of his boats was attacked by Maori war canoes.
         The original map of the western coastline he travelled up is shown on the stamp. Also featured is an illustration from Tasman's journal and a portrait believed to be of Tasman.

First Day Cover - 12 February 1997.

This is an interesting cover sent from Christchurch to Germany in 1998.

Technical information:-
     Date of Issue:
     12 February, 1997.
     Red Cactus Design, Wellington, New Zealand.
     Southern Colour Print, New Zealand.
     Stamp Size:
     40mm x 28mm; Miniature Sheet Size: 165mm x 90mm.
     Sheet Size:
     50 stamps per sheet.
     Perforation Gauge:
     Paper Type:
     Coated papers, red phosphor coated, unwatermarked.

Millennium Series Overview.                   Millennium Series II

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,

Information for this post came from.

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