Monday, 15 October 2018

1998 Underwater World

        The New Zealand coastline is around 11,000 kilometres in total. It is surrounded by some of the richest and cleanest waters on the planet, and a diverse underwater world that has earned New Zealand an international reputation.
        The cornerstone for such a rich sea life is plankton. Our seas teem with these minute plants and animals, so there is plenty of food for the wide range of migratory and local fish that live in the mix of cool and warm currents that reach our shores.

These special stamps featured some of the creatures from New Zealand's diverse underwater world.

The 40c Stamps.

Mint and used or cancelled se-tenant block of four 40c stamps.

40c - Moonfish (Lampris guttatus).
This unusual-looking, disc-shaped fish grows up to 1.5 metres in diameter. Its crimson fins and large eyes rimmed with gold would lead many to think it was tropical, yet it lives many miles offshore in the surface waters of warm and temperate seas. 

40c - Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus).
This formidable shark is one of the fastest fish in the sea. Although it grows on average to around 2.8 metres and 180 kg for the female, and 1.9 metres and 56 kg for the male, makos have been clocked travelling at up to 56 kph!

40c - Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares).
Yellowfin tuna grow up to 180 kg and can be found in New Zealand waters over the summer. The most famous place to catch yellowfin in New Zealand is 'the tuna capital of New Zealand', Whakatāne, on the North Island's east coast.

40c - Giant Squid (Genus architeuthis).
The giant squid is a true creature of legend, with no live specimen ever having been caught. They are said to grow up to 18 metres long, to have a beak powerful enough to cut through steel cable, and to be strong enough to kill a small whale with their eight arms and two tentacles. 

The 80c Stamps.

Mint and used or cancelled se-tenant block of four 80c stamps.

80c -Striped Marlin (Tetrapturus audax).
New Zealand game anglers have sought the striped marlin ever since 1915 when a 105 kg specimen was caught in the Bay of Islands. Their fighting power is legendary. In addition to spectacular leaps, striped marlin also have extraordinary speed being able to travel at up to 80 kph! 

80c - Porcupine Fish (Allomycterus jaculiferus).
This fish is both prickly and deadly. It is protected on the outside by spines of up to 2 cm which it can cause to protrude by filling itself with water when threatened. The porcupine fish also carries the poison TTX (tetradotoxin) in its systems, which can be deadly to humans.

80c - Eagle Ray (Myliobatis tenuicaudatus).
The eagle ray is one of more than 20 species of ray found in New Zealand. When disturbed, the eagle ray escapes by flapping its pointed wings and 'flying' underwater. It's only defence is a barb at the base of its tail which contains a tissue necrotic toxin.

80c - Sandager's Wrasse (Coris sandageri).
Young Sandager's wrasse are small and cream with a striking yellow band down the length of their body. However, they change dramatically as they approach adulthood. Adult females have a creamy body, broad fawn strokes and light splashes of lemon markings. Males become a tapestry of brown, yellow and white strokes across a fawn or mauve body, with purple and turquoise colouring around the head. 

First Day Cover.

First Day Cover - 7 October 1998.

Limited Edition Miniature Sheet.
A miniature sheet was produced for inclusion in the Underwater World limited edition collectors pack. It incorporated a perforated set of stamps. Each miniature sheet was individually numbered from one through to 2,000.
Limited Edition Miniature Sheet with four 40c and four 80c stamps.
 (2,000 numbered copies)

1999 Australia Exhibition.
The Australia ’99 World Stamp Expo was held in Melbourne in March 19-24 1999 with a 'Maritime Heritage' theme.
Underwater World Exhibition Miniature Sheet with two 40 cents and two 80 cents stamps.

Philex France '99.
The French National Assembly approved the issue of the first French postage stamp on 24 August 1848. This stamp symbolised the Second Republic, in the form of a serene Ceres, goddess of the harvest, depicted in profile. As well as celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first French stamp, the exhibition marked another, major historical landmark. During the show the French Post Office issued its last stamp denominated in francs; all further issues would be in euros.

Underwater World Exhibition Miniature Sheet with two 40 cents and two 80 cents stamps.

Technical information.
Date of issue: 7 October 1998.
The number of stamps: Eight.
Stamps and first-day cover designed by: Geoffrey Cox, Auckland, New Zealand.
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand, by lithography.
The number of colours: Four process colours and two special colours.
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 40mm (vertical).
The number of stamps per sheet: 100.
Perforation gauge: 14.
Paper type: 103 gsm red phosphor coated.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 7 October 1999.

Some of the images in this post were used with permission from the illustrated catalogue of StampsNZ
You can visit their website and Online Catalogue at,

Information & images for this post came from.

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