Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Captain Cook Stamps of New Zealand.

A collection of New Zealand stamps and postmarks associated with Captain Cook. This page should be considered as an ongoing project as new items could be added as we discover them.

1906 Christchurch Exhibition.

3d - Captain Cook's Landing.

The dual colour three penny stamp depicts the landing of Captain Cook. on his first voyage to New Zealand; at Poverty Bay on the east coast of the North Island on the 7th of October 1769. This first meeting led to the deaths of six local Maori during skirmishes with the crew, due to a misinterpretation of the traditional Maori challenge. Cook was unable to gain many of the provisions he and his crew needed at the bay, and for this reason, gave it its name.

1935 Pictorials.

2/- Landing of Captain Cook. (Normal & Official)

Captain James Cook landed at Poverty Bay on 8 October 1769, during his first voyage in the Pacific. The first encounter with local Maori led to the deaths of six Maori during skirmishes with the crew due to a misinterpretation of the traditional Maori challenge.  Poverty Bay was so named because of the unwelcome reception accorded to the explorers by the local natives and their resulting inability to obtain provisions. The stamp shows a fern-tree on the left, a cabbage tree on the right, with Cook's ship the Endeavour in the background.

1940 Centennial.

Captain Cook and the Endeavour - 1d. (Normal & Official)

          Every child in New Zealand schools is taught that Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand in 1642, but after only briefly exploring parts of the west coast he sailed away again and the country lay unexplored until 1769 when Captain James Cook arrived.
         Cook's first voyage was based on the idea that the major land masses of the northern hemisphere must be balanced with a major land mass in the southern hemisphere. He explored around New Zealand in the hope it was connected to this Southern Continent but as we know today this hidden continent never existed.
         The 1d. stamp shows Captain James Cook on the right-hand side, with his ship the Endeavour on the left. In the middle is one of the first maps he made of New Zealand. This map has proven to be surprisingly accurate in most of its details. Noticeable errors are making Stewart Island part of the mainland and Banks Peninsular an island. (There is another larger copy of Captain Cook's map further down this post). 

1959 Marlborough Centennial.

2d - Cook's Endeavour. 
The careening (clean and repair) of Captain James Cook's 'Endeavour' at Ship Cove in Queen Charlotte Sound, 1769 during his first visit to New Zealand.

1969 Captain Cook Bicentenary.
This issue commemorates the bicentenary of Captain Cook's first voyage to New Zealand.
The Captain Cook Bicentenary issue marked two firsts. For the first time in New Zealand, the set appeared in miniature sheet form with the values se-tenant. It is also the first time that embossing was used on a New Zealand stamp to make the portrait on each stamp stand out.

The 4c stamp has an embossed side portrait of Captain James Cook with the transit of Venus across the Sun and an Octant (reflecting quadrant) - a measuring instrument used primarily in navigation.
The 6c stamp has an embossed portrait of Sir Joseph Banks, the noted naturalist and an outline of HM Bark Endeavour.

The 18c stamp has an embossed portrait of Doctor Daniel Solander, the botanist aboard the 'Endeavour' and an outline of Matata (Rhaboothamnus Solandri), a native plant bearing his name.
The 28c stamp has an embossed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Captain Cook's chart of New Zealand.

The Miniature Sheet.

This issue became very well-known for its miniature sheet which was even more striking because of its simple design of only the four values se-tenant and a title/description in the top selvage. 

1976 - Maori Artifacts Collected by Captain Cook.
These four Maori Artifact stamps were issued on the 24th of November 1976 as part of the 1975 Definitives. They feature the four priceless artifacts collected by Captain Cook on his voyages of discovery to New Zealand.
1975 Pictorial/Definitives - Part One.

Maripi - 11c
An intricately carved wooden knife edged with shark teeth.  Reputed to have been used for cutting flesh - possibly human flesh - it may also have been used as a weapon.

Putorino - 12c
A carved flute with an unusual double tube played as a solo instrument or to accompany a song.

Wahaika - 13c
A sickle-shaped hardwood club used for jabbing in close combat.

Kotiate - 14c
A ceremonial form of another hand-to-hand weapon.

1990 Heritage - The Ships.
50c - Captain James Cook / 'Endeavour.'

In 1769, the 'Endeavour', under the command of Captain James Cook, sailed into Poverty Bay for a historic landfall.  Purchased by the British Navy for Cook, 'Endeavour' was not a fast ship, but a smaller study vessel, well suited for the voyage to find the southern continent. The flatter bottom meant the ship had the advantage for such unknown voyages of being able to be careened and beached easily for repairs.  Refitted after Cook's voyage but being unsuited for naval battles, 'Endeavour' was eventually sold by the British Navy in 1775.
(This stamp was also used in the miniature sheet seen below that was produced for the 1990 Stamp World Exhibition in London.)

1990 Stamp World London.
New Zealand Post attended the 1990 Stamp World Exhibition in London in May 1990. A miniature sheet was produced to commemorate the occasion incorporating the 50c 'Endeavour' stamp from the 'Heritage - the Ships' stamp issue, against a background design reproducing Captain Cook's early chart of New Zealand.

1995 Ross Dependency Antarctic Explorers.

40c - Captain James Cook / Resolution and Adventure.

On his second voyage to the South Pacific, Cook commanded 'HMS Resolution' on this voyage, while Tobias Furneaux commanded its companion ship, 'HMS Adventure'. Cook's expedition circumnavigated the globe at an extreme southern latitude, becoming one of the first to cross the Antarctic Circle (17 January 1773). In the Antarctic fog, Resolution and Adventure became separated. Furneaux made his way to New Zealand, where he lost some of his men during an encounter with Māori, and eventually sailed back to Britain, while Cook continued to explore the Antarctic, reaching 71°10'S on 31 January 1774.

1997 The Discoverers - Millennium Part I.

40c - James Cook, Quadrant & Map.

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. 

1998 Special cover making Cooks crossing the Antarctic Circle in 1773.
The 1997 Explorers - Captain Cook was the stamp used here although this stamp marks an earlier voyage by Captain Cook when in 1769 he discovered New Zealand.

1999 Nostalgia - Millennium Part IV.

$1.50 - Stamps, Coins and Postcards / Collecting.

Originally I had a problem with including this stamp even though the portrait of Captain Cook can be clearly seen in the bottom right-hand corner. Then I realised that Cook has appeared on New Zealand stamps and banknotes, while his ship the 'Endeavour' appears on our 50c coin.   

2008 The A to Z of New Zealand.

50c - C is for Cook.
This was a fun collector's sheet of stamps featuring a subject linked to each letter of the alphabet. In this case "C is for Cook." Captain Cook who discovered and explored much of New Zealand.

2011 Counting in Kiwi.
2011 Counting in Kiwi.

60c - Captain Cook.
17: Captain Cook landed in New Zealand in 1769. This was another fun issue linking New Zealand subjects to numbers 1 - 21.

Other Captain Cook Postal Items.
I think these postal strikes are clear enough that no further explanation is needed.

1968 - Tarapex '69 Capt. Cook Labels.
 Labels issued to promote and fund Tarapex '69.
Below are details of the cancellations used at the exhibition.


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,

Information for this post came from.


  1. Are those 1976 stamps going to be added to your Maori page?

  2. Interesting collection. Maybe you could have told us more about the special postal cancellations. Raymond