Thursday, 22 June 2017

2006 Ross Dependency 50th Anniversary Antarctic Programme

        For the few inhabitants of a wedge-shaped piece of land at the very bottom of the world, 2007 marked a very significant milestone. The land is the Ross Dependency, the people are the teams at New Zealand's Scott Base and USAs McMurdo Sound Base, and the milestone is the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand Antarctic Programme, which continues to maintain a unique focus on scientific research in the area.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

1991 Sheep Breeds of New Zealand

        The cornerstone of New Zealand's farm-based economy has always been sheep; a common saying since the early days of the colony has been that the people of New Zealand 'live off the sheep's back'. Although we are now active in the export of a diverse range of other goods, sheep remain a mainstay of our prosperity, right up until more recently when another farming sector, dairy took over.

        It is probable that the first sheep to set foot on New Zealand arrived in 1814 with the missionary Samuel Marsden. It was not until after 1834, however, when the first Australian merinos were landed on Mana Island, bound for the Wairarapa, that sheep were farmed in any volume - and a flourishing wool trade with Europe was developed. An export trade in sheep meat was initiated in 1882, and today New Zealand has an enviable international reputation as an efficient producer and exporter of top quality meat and wool products.
        In New Zealand, sheep are raised for both meat and wool. Since the mid 19th century, New Zealand farmers have worked to perfect breeds which meet the dual purpose needs of both wool and meat. The dual purpose breeds are favoured for their valuable fleece, regular lamb production, multiple births, good maternal instincts, high milk production and easy care characteristics. Five successful New Zealand cross-breeds, along with the traditional English Romney, are featured in this stamp issue.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

1991 The Tuatara / World Wildlife Fund

        The Tuatara is the sole survivor from a lineage which stretches back before the dinosaur age. Scientists have been aware for over a century now that the Tuatara is no ordinary reptile. It is in fact, the last living representative of the reptilian order Sphenodontia. The Tuatara's ancestors are known to have been around over 225 million years ago - about the time the first dinosaurs trampled the earth. And today's Tuatara survives 65 million years after the last dinosaur disappeared.

        Naturalists have been beating a path to these shores since the late 1800s to collect Tuatara - sometimes hundreds at a time - for the world's museums. As a result, as early as 1885 a warrant was bestowed to provide all Tuatara with absolute protection. All Tuatara islands are now Wildlife Sanctuaries or Flora and Fauna Reserves so that permits are required in order to visit them. The factors which impact most heavily on the Tuatara's survival are the modification of their habitat, the numbers of co-existing petrels and shearwaters, and the island's population of rats.

        There is approximately 100,000 individual Tuatara alive today. Almost every one of them inhabits one of 30 small, cliff-ringed islands off the shores of New Zealand. Stephens Island in Cook Strait is home to at least 30,000 - almost one-third of the world's Tuatara population.