In the middle and later years of the 19th century, miners in their thousands travelled to New Zealand from all over the world, drawn by excited reports of gold discovered and dreams of riches beyond their imaginations. Their arrival and the results of their toil were to have spectacular effects on this country’s social and economic fabric – effects that can still be seen today.
For many hopeful prospectors, their dreams of wealth were fulfilled, with fields in Thames, the West Coast and Otago yielding this precious metal in abundance. Their successes led to more arrivals, with New Zealand experiencing unprecedented population growth during the gold rush years – increasing by 75% between 1861 and 1864.
The gold rushes now rank as one of the most powerful stimuli ever for the New Zealand economy, with the South Island, in particular, reaping the benefits of its newfound wealth.
45c - Gold panning c1800s.
Gold panning was the simplest way of extracting gold from a stream or water. The gold bareing material, sand or gravel was placed into the pan with water. As the miner moved the pan the water slushed the material around so the lighter sand and gravel would spill over the edge of the pan while the heavier stones and gold would sink to the bottom. Care had to be taken not to allow the heavier gold to escape as well. In the end, the miner will pick out the stones with his fingers leaving a few grains of gold and hopefully a gold nugget.
Rub the 45c stamp and you experienced a mini gold rush of your own!
Innovative technology enabled NZ Post to produce the stamp with thermographic ink – so that when you touched or rubbed the gold pan in the stamp, the heat from your finger would dissolve the ink to reveal gold nuggets. This was the first time New Zealand Post used this printing technique for its stamps.
90c - c1868, Kuranui Creek, Thames.
Gold was first discovered in Thames on 10 August 1867, by prospector William Hunt. This momentous event heralded years of affluence for the town, with gold production topping £1 million at its peak. Towards the end of the century, Thames had become New Zealand’s largest population centre, with 18,000 inhabitants and more than 100 hotels and three theatres – in contrast to today, with its population of around 7,000 and only four hotels.
$1.35 - c1900s, Tuapeka, Otago.
The Otago gold rush attracted thousands of prospectors to the province, including many Chinese miners – invited especially by the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce in an initiative that aimed to redress a recent exodus of valued labour to the newly discovered West Coast goldfields. The first Chinese immigrants arrived in 1866 from Australia, and by 1869 more than 2,000 had come to the land they would call the ‘New Gold Mountain’.
$1.50 - c1901, Roxburgh.
Getting hard-won gold from its source to the world beyond the mine was an important matter for the miners, with security an overriding concern. Entrepreneurs like Australian Charles Cole soon recognised and seized this niche business opportunity, bringing horses and coaches into valuable service. This 1901 photograph captured the last Otago gold escort, complete with driver and his escorts: policemen and Bank of New Zealand staff.
$2.00 - c1900s, Gold Rush.
Otago’s principal port, Dunedin, flourished under the influence of the gold rush. It rapidly became New Zealand’s commercial and industrial hub and a bustling hive of building activity. Manufacturing operations – notably engineering works and breweries – thrived and the population swelled, increasing from just 2,400 in 1854 to around 16,000 in 1864. Many of today’s best-known New Zealand businesses had their origins in Dunedin glorious heyday.
First Day Cover - 6 September 2006.
The five stamps were attached, cancelled with a special cancel showing gold mining equipment.
Miniature Sheet with one 45 cents, one 90 cents, one $1.35, one $1.50 and one $2 stamp.
Notice how the five stamps have been skillfully included in the picture.
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover - 6 September 2006.
Limited edition collectable containing exclusive stamp products not available anywhere else.
Of course, this is not even available from NZ Post now.
Presentation pack containing a selection of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps.
Date of issue: 6 September 2006.
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps.
Denominations and designs: 45c, 90c, $1.35, $1.50, $2.00.
Stamps and first day cover designed by: Cato Partners.
Miniature sheet designed by: Cato Partners.
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand by offset lithography.
Number of colours: Four process colours plus thermochromic ink and gold foiling.
Stamp size and format: 45c: 30mm x 40mm (vertical); 90c, $1.35, $1.50, $2.00: 30mm x 40mm (horizontal).
Paper Type: Tullis Russell 104 gsm red phosphor stamp paper.
Number of stamps per sheet: 25.
Perforation gauge: 14 x 14.
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 5 September 2007.
Some of the images in this post were used with permission from the illustrated catalogue of StampsNZ
Information & images for this post came from.