Chinese New Year.

In 1997 New Zealand Post began a series of postage stamps celebrating the Chinese New Year. Originally the stamps featured the animals identified with the year but nothing on them connecting them with the Lunar Year. Literature concerning the issue did mention the Chinese year such as the "Year of the Ox," or the "Year of the Dragon." As the years went by, the series grew and began to evolve features and themes more fitting with the Chinese tradition.  Many of these early issues were accompanied with miniature sheets which depicted a theme more in keeping with the New Year. I have included these miniature sheets as part of this collection.

By the time we got to the second 12 year period, the stamps were clearly designed for Chinese New Year with miniature sheets displaying all the stamps of each issue.

The Chinese lunar calendar is based on observations of the Sun and Moon and is used for traditional activities in China and in overseas Chinese communities. It determines the date for traditional Chinese holidays and guides Chinese people in selecting the luckiest day for a wedding or funeral, or for beginning a new venture or relocating. The Chinese Zodiac consists of 12 signs of the zodiac – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey rooster, dog and pig. People born under these signs are said to take on personality trait associated with these animals.

2019 The Year of the Pig.
See our post on this issue 2007 / 2019 Year of the Pig.
People born in the Year of the Pig tend to be straightforward, kind-hearted and generous. They enjoy spending time and sharing things with others, although their openminded, trusting, fun-loving attitude and tendency to say ‘yes’ can leave them open to being taken advantage of. While Pigs are generally relaxed, easy on themselves and often romantic, they’re also straight-talkers with a strong and earnest sense of justice. They approach tasks assigned to them with energy and perseverance and complete them to the best of their abilities. They can be trusted to do a good job. In tough times though, Pigs can become emotional, spiral into a negative state of mind and lose all motivation. They can also be prone to judging others – a characteristic that can get them into trouble.

$1.20 - Calligraphy.                                                $2.40 - Paper-Cutting.

           $3.00 - The Pig.                                               $3.60 - State Highway 85.

The four stamps are also included in the Miniature Sheet.


2018  The Year of the Dog.
 See our post on this issue 2006/2018 Year of the Dog.
The dog is the next animal in the Chinese lunar calendar. People born in this year tend to have decisive, loyal and loving personality traits which can make them fierce and long-lasting friends. But, because they have quite cautious characteristics, they can take time to form these bonds and can be easily distressed if trust is broken.

$1.00 - Calligraphy.                                   $2.20 - Paper-cutting.

$2.70 - The Dog.                                               $3.30 - LakeTekapo.

The four stamps are also included in the Miniature Sheet.

2017  The Year of the Rooster.
See our Post on this issue 2005/2017 Year of the Rooster.
The Rooster is this year's animal in the Chinese zodiac and is considered clever and cheeky. People born in the Year of the Monkey are loyal, trustworthy, observant and tend to have character traits of confidence, courageousness and resourcefulness.

       $1.00 - Pictogram.                                $1.80 - Paper-cut Rooster.

      $2.20 - The Rooster.                                    $2.70 - Auckland Domain.

These four stamps were also included in the annual Miniature Sheet.

2016  The Year of the Monkey.
See our post on this set 2004/2016  Year of the Monkey.
The monkey is the annual animal of the Chinese zodiac and is considered clever and cheeky. People born in the Year of the Monkey are witty and intelligent with magnetic personalities and tend to be fast learners and astute opportunists.

               80c - Pictogram.                                     $1.40 - Paper-cut Monkey.       

$2.00 - The Monkey.                                  $2.50 - Monkey Island.

These four stamps were also included in the annual Miniature Sheet.

2015  The Year of the Sheep.
See our post on this set 2003/2015 Year of the Sheep.
The Chinese Zodiac consists of 12 signs of the zodiac – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey rooster, dog and pig. Also known as Year of the Ram or Goat, the sheep is the eighth animal in the Chinese lunar calendar. People born under this sign are known to be gentle and calm.

       80c - Pictogram.                                      $1.40 - Paper-cut Sheep.

       $2.00 – Sheep in New Zealand.               $2.50 – Church of the Good Shepherd.

This issue was included with the usual miniature sheet. This image is poorer quality than I usually use but I expect to be able to replace it with a better quality image sometime after these stamps go on sale.

2014  The Year of the Horse.
See our post on this set 2002/2014 Year of the Horse.
The next animal in the Chinese lunar calendar is the horse. Those born in the Year of the Horse are thought to be energetic, intelligent and often physically strong, and they like to live in quiet, peaceful environments. Again the same themes of various styles of Chinese artwork shown on the first three values with the high value reserved for another famous New Zealand icon, formally the Rotorua Bathhouse, now the Rotorua Museum.

  70c - Pictogram.                                                                     $1.40 - Paper-cut Horse.

    $1.90 - Equestrian.                               $2.40 - Rotorua Museum.
                                                                New Zealand Icon.

Again the usual miniature sheet containing all four stamps was included in this issue.

2013  The Year of the Snake.
See the post on this set 2001/2013 Year of the Snake.
The snake is the animal in the Chinese lunar calendar for 2013, and those born in the Year of the Snake are thought to be elegant, insightful, motivated and highly intellectual. According to ancient Chinese folklore, snakes are deities in disguise, and a snake entering a house brings good fortune for all who live there.
   70c - Year of the Snake.                      $1.40 - Paper-cut Snake                          $1.90 - Koru-Snake Lantern 
$2.40 - Queenstown and Red Lanterns.
New Zealand Icon.

Another brightly coloured miniature sheet containing all four stamps was included in this issue.

2012  The Year of the Dragon.
See the post on this set 2000/2012 Year of the Dragon.
The dragon is an important ancient symbol for the Chinese people, and it is believed to ward off evil spirits. Everything connected with the dragon is thought to be blessed, which makes this lunar stamp issue particularly special.
60c - Year of the Dragon.                     $1.20 - Paper-cut Dragon.                             $1.90 - Dragon Lantern.

$2.40 - New Zealand Icon - Dunedin Railway Station.

The usual miniature sheet was included in this issue but this time there is a change. Where below the sheets have background colours to match the stamps, here we see different shades of one colour. This is what I have enjoyed about this series, seeing the series changing and evolving year by year. 

2011 The Year of the Rabbit.
See the post on this set 1999/2011 Year of the Rabbit. 
Again for the third issue of this series the stamps were colourful and symbolic of different aspects of this important Chinese event. Also included on the highest value was another famous New Zealand Icon to connect the Chinese New Year with Chinese living in New Zealand. This stamp is also special in that the Christchurch Cathedral no longer exists having been destroyed in the recent earthquakes. 

60c - Year of the Rabbit.                      $1.20 - Rabbit Paper-cut.                   $1.90 - Rabbit Drawing.   

$2.40 - Christchurch Cathedral.
New Zealand Icon.

I do not have a mint copy of the 2011 miniature sheet but this cancelled copy is of interest in that it shows the special cancel prepared and used for this issue. Again we see the changing colour to match the colours of the stamps.

2010 The Year of the Tiger.
See our post on this set 1998/2010 Year of the Tiger. 
This series continued to evolve by the Year of the Tiger adding the fourth stamp to the yearly issue of Chinese New Year stamps. One feature of these stamps is their bright, colourful appearance.
People born in the Year of the Tiger (1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986 and 1998) are generally well liked because of their charismatic personalities. Always at their happiest when climbing the ladder of success, they are quick learners and often prefer to work alone. Famous ‘Tigers’ include Agatha Christie, Marilyn Monroe, Queen Elizabeth II and Tom Cruise.

         50c – Year of the Tiger                                    $1.00 – Tiger                             $1.80 – Multicultural New Zealand
$2.30 – Wellington Beehive.
New Zealand Icon.

The Stamps.
Like in 2009 the first value 50c showed the Chinese character for the Tiger while the second value $1.00 showed a paper cut of a tiger. The third value $1.80 is a painting of a tiger and is said to show Multicultural New Zealand. This is an important subject, well worth including in a set like this but I must say I am struggling to see it in this stamp design. Of course the final value $2.30 shows the link to New Zealand with the Beehive, a Government building from Wellington. Again all four values featured a cloud background.

 I do not like this new style miniature sheet in the Chinese New Year series. To me, it is not much more than the four values set on a larger sheet.

 2009  The Year of the Ox.
See my post on this set 1997 / 2009 The Year of the Ox. 
2009 saw a major change in the Chinese New Year series. First, there was a new miniature sheet style. Secondly, there was a change in the stamp sets as well. Now the stamps were clearly featuring the lunar year, a step forward for the stamp design but I believe a step back for the miniature sheet.  
The Ox is not usually considered the first animal of the Chinese Zodiac, the rat is but NZ Post started Chinese New Year issues in 1997 so this is the year when they launched their second series of stamps. People born in the Year of the Ox are natural leaders – dependable, calm, modest and hardworking. Just like the animal they represent, they are tireless in their work and capable of enduring any hardship without complaint. They’re also known for their intelligence, although they can be strong-minded and stubborn, and they hate to fail or be opposed. Famous Oxen include Napoleon Bonaparte, Vincent Van Gogh and Walt Disney.

            50c – Year of the Ox                                     $1.00 – Ox                       $2.00 – Auckland Harbour Bridge 

There were three stamps in the 2009 set. The first 50c value showed the Chinese character for ox set against a yellow sky with white clouds. The second value $1.00 shows a paper cut of a red ox. The third value $2.00 links the set to New Zealand by showing a famous icon, the Auckland Harbour Bridge. At the top next to the value, all three stamps carry the words "Year of the Ox."

 This is the first miniature sheet in a new series. They have used the three main colours in the background to compliment the colours of the stamps. You will also notice that each miniature sheet in this series will show the 12 calendar signs with the current sign circled for easy identification.  

2008  The Year of the Rat.
There were only four values in this issue called Pocket Pets. Notice that the Chinese character has been left off each stamp and only the $1.50 value actually shows rats. To me, this was a step backwards for this series.

50c – Rabbits                                                        $1.00 – Guinea pigs

$1.50 – Rats                                                         $2.00 – Mice

 This was the final in the series showing the circle of Chinese New Year Signs. This time the animal is the rat. The upper $1.50 stamp on the left shows two rats while the lower $2.00 stamp shows two mice.

2007  The Year of the Pig.
 The pigs shown on this set of stamps are three breeds of New Zealand which were remnants of earlier introductions that have, through isolation, developed unique qualities and characteristics of their own. It is good to see the Chinese symbol on the stamp connecting them to Chinese New Year. 

Kunekune pig - 45c                                                             Kunekune pig - 90c

Arapawa pig - $1.35                                                            Auckland Island pig - $1.50

Kunekune pig - $2.00

 2007 The Year of the Pig, a miniature sheet featuring the usual ring of lunar signs and two stamps from the issue released at the same time.

2006  The Year of the Dog.
 Five dogs are depicted on this year's Chinese New Year issue. What I like about this set is yes they are actually dogs and yes the stamps are linked to Chinese New Year with the Chinese character in the upper left corner of each stamp. What I don't like is that on some of the stamps the Chinese character is hard to see. 
See our post on this issue 2006/2018 Year of the Dog.

Labrador Retriever - 45c                German Sheperd Dog - 90c                Jack Russell Terrier - $1.35

Golden Retriever - $1.50                          Huntaway - $2.00

The Year of the Dog - the 2006 version of our lunar series. 

2005  The Year of the Rooster.
See our Post on this set 2005/2017 Year of the Rooster.
Farm animals, the sheep, the dog, the pigs and not forgetting the rooster. Who could forget this bird who wakes you up every morning? This series when joined together make a strip depicting a complete farm scene so in this case, I decided to leave them joined rather than break them into individual stamps.

 Sheep - 45c              Dogs - 90c             Pigs - $1.35           Rooster - $1.50        Rooster - $2.00

 Now here is a great example of a Chinese New Year miniature sheet. The Year of the Rooster and of course there in the centre is the rooster but even better is the two stamps featuring roosters on the left-hand side.

2004  The Year of the Monkey.
See our post on this set 2004/2016  Year of the Monkey. 
2004 is the Chinese New Year, The Year of the Monkey. This year's issue depicted five animals similar to a monkey. I still believe that these sets could have been more connected to the lunar year than they are. First the Chinese New Year should have been included on the stamps and secondly, the stamps should have featured only monkeys.

Hamadryas Baboon Papio hamadryas hamadryas - 40c
Malayan Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus - 90c

Red Panda Ailurus fulgens fulgens - $1.30
Ring-tailed Lemur Lemur catta - $1.50
Spider Monkey Ateles geoffroyi vellerosus - $2.00

 Again we see the miniature sheet for this series. Again a good example except that the top stamp shows a lemur and not a monkey. Even the baboon on the lowest value would have been better.

2003  The Year of the Sheep.
See our post on this set 2003/2015 Year of the Sheep. 
Sheep farming has always been an important industry for New Zealand and this series of five stamp shows us some aspects of this. First, there is the mustering of the sheep and bringing them into the shearing shed pens. This would be impossible without the work done by the sheepdogs, a typical example being shown in the third value. The final two values are depicting shearing where the wool is removed from the sheep in much the same way as you or I would get our hair cut.

High Country - 40c                                                                   Mustering - 90c

A Typical Sheep Dog - $1.30

Sheep Shearing - $1.50                                   The Shearing Gang - $2.00

The Chinese believe that good fortune smiles on those born in the Year of the Sheep (also referred to as the Year of the Ram or Goat) because of their pure nature and kind heart. 'Sheep people' are said to be charming, elegant and artistic, and to always have the three most important things in life: food, shelter and clothing.

 The miniature sheet for 2003, The Year of the Sheep was continuing the series of sheets featuring the circle of lunar signs. As I have said before I like this design because it has an attractive appearance and also because it clearly illustrates what this series is all about.

 2002  The Year of the Horse.
See the post on this set 2002/2014 Year of the Horse.
2002 saw New Zealand issue a set of six values featuring top superstars of horse racing. Although it doesn't say so on the stamps, this set marked the Chinese New Year, The Year of the Horse.

Christian Cullen - 40c                                                               Lyell Creek - 80c
Yulestar - 90c                                                                Sunline - $1.30
Ethereal - $1.50                                                                  Zabeel - $2.00

People born in the Year of the Horse are spirited and independent, cheerful, skilful and perceptive. Chinese associate the horse with energy, happiness, confidence and success.
The 2002 miniature sheet followed a similar format to the previous year but this time the lunar signs had moved around so the horse appearing in the middle. I know I have said this before but I like the way they did this. The two stamps to the left came from the superstars of horse racing issue.

2001  The Year of the Snake.
 See the post on this set 2001/2013 Year of the Snake.
The Marine Reptile set below was released as the 2001 Chinese New Year issue. Again this is not mentioned on the stamps but the last two values, the sea-snakes were included in the miniature sheet.
Green Turtle - 40c                              Leathery Turtle - 80c                              Loggerhead Turtle - 90c

Hawksbill Turtle - $1.30                      Banded Sea-snake - $1.50                Yellow-bellied Sea-snake - $2.00      

 The 2001 Chinese New Year miniature sheet was again in the landscape format. The two stamps to the left were the sea-snakes from the Marine Reptile set released at the same time.

2000 The Year of the Dragon.
See my post on this set 2000/2012 The Year of the Dragon.         
The fourth in New Zealand’s lunar stamp series, Spirits & Guardians, commemorated the Chinese Lunar Year of the Dragon. In Chinese folklore, dragons guard the earth’s jewels, govern the weather and watch over the rivers.
         This set links to New Zealand by depicting supernatural beings such as taniwha, fairies and giant reptiles from stories of the Maori people. 

            Araiteuru - 40c                            Kurangaituku - 80c                       Te Hoata and Te Pupu - $1.10
40c Araiteuru - North Island Sea Guardian.
80c Kurangaituku - Giant Bird-woman.
$1.10 Te Hoata and Te Pupu - Volcanic Taniwha Sisters. 

Patupaiarehe - $1.20                       Te Ngarara-huarau - $1.50                          Tuhirangi - $1.80
$1.20 Patupaiarehe - Mountain Fairy Tribe.
$1.50 Te Ngarara-huarau - Giant First Lizard.
$1.80 Tuhirangi - South Island Sea Guardian.

 The 2000 Chinese New Year miniature sheet was slightly changed from earlier ones because it was designed in a landscape format rather than portrait format. I think this was an improvement over the previous ones. It still carried the circle of lunar signs but now the stamps were located on the left-hand side. I like their choice of stamps too because these two look like dragons. The 40c value might have been a good choice too.

1999  The Year of the Rabbit.
See the post on this set 1999/2011 Year of the Rabbit.
In 1999 NZ Post followed a similar pattern by issuing a miniature sheet for Chinese New Year and connecting it to a set of stamps. The stamp set is called Popular Pets and only the 80c value actually shows a rabbit, unless you want to count the toy rabbit on the $1.00 stamp.

                                   Labrador Puppy - 40c               Netherland Dwarf Rabbit - 80c           Tabby Kitten - $1.00

Lamb - $1.20.                              Welsh Pony - $1.50.                              Budgies - $1.80.

 There are two miniature sheets shown here. The one on the left is the one issued with the Popular Pet set while the one on the right was released later in the year to mark NZ Post attending a large philatelic exhibition in China.  

China’99 International Stamp Exhibition
Issued 21 August 1999
The China’99 exhibition was held at the China International Exhibition Centre in Beijing from August 21 to 30. As the last large-scale international philatelic show to be held in China in the 20th century it was a good opportunity for NZ Post to promote stamp sales and other philatelic business in China. The miniature sheet above was created for this event.

1998 The Year of the Tiger.
See our post on this set 1998/2010 Year of the Tiger.
In 1998 New Zealand again issued a miniature sheet to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Year of the Tiger. The three stamps across the top of this sheet came from a set called Cat / Favourite Felines. Of these only the cat depicted on the 40c value looked anything like a tiger. Again no mention of the Chinese New Year was made on the stamps themselves.

Domestic Moggy - 40c.                              Burmese - 80c.                              Birman - $1.00.
British Blue - $1.20.                              Persian - $1.50.                              Siamese - $1.80.

You might like to compare this sheet with the one below in the previous year. Notice how all the year signs have moved one place around so now the Tiger takes the centre place. 

1997 - The Year of the Ox
See my post on this set 1997 / 2009 The Year of the Ox.
1997 was the first year in which New Zealand celebrated a Chinese Lunar Year. Since it was the Year of the Ox the stamps depicted various cattle breeds which have become important to farmers in New Zealand.
Notice that none of these six stamps mentions Chinese New Year. They would not have been associated with this event if it hadn't been for three of these values being used in the miniature sheet for the 11th Asian Philatelic Exhibition held in Hong Kong.   

Holstein-Friesian - 40c.                         Jersey - 80c.                              Simmental - $1.00.

Ayrshire - $1.20.                              Angus - $1.50.                              Hereford - $1.80.

 This miniature sheet was intended for the 11th Asian Philatelic Exhibition held in Hong Kong. It was so well received by the New Zealand public that NZ Post decided to issue an annual Chinese New Year miniature sheet connected to a current New Zealand stamp issue. As we will see above, as time went by this developed into a four-stamp issue as well as the usual miniature sheet. 
I like the design of this miniature sheet as it shows the ox in the centre surrounded by the other 11 lunar year signs. Three of the stamps from the New Zealand Cattle set are across the top which links this stamp set to mark the Chinese New Year.

1994 Hong Kong Stamp Exhibition.
Again Chinese New Year is mentioned on a New Zealand stamp issue. From here until 1997 there is a gap where no stamps were issued with this theme.
(See our collection The Round Kiwis.)

Hong Kong '94 Round Kiwi Miniature Sheet
Issued 18 February 1994.
Hong Kong's history of postage stamps dates back to 1862 and the philatelic exhibition entitled Hong Kong '94 was staged to commemorate this long history.
A special miniature sheet, designed by Karen Odiam, was produced to commemorate the exhibition, incorporating three Round Kiwi stamps (green, red and blue). Also featured on the sheet were two golden retrievers (one pup and one fully grown) to commemorate the Chinese Year of the Dog.

1993 Taipei Stamp Exhibition.
I am not sure if this miniature sheet should be included in my Chinese New Year collection but since it does mention the Year of the Rooster, it would be the first time Chinese New Year appeared on a New Zealand stamp.
(See our collection The Round Kiwis.)

Taipei '93 Round Kiwi Miniature Sheet
Issued 14 August 1993
This miniature sheet was produced to commemorate Taipei '93 Asian International Invitation Stamp Exhibition, held in Taiwan 14 - 19 August 1993. The sheet, designed by Leigh-Mardon Pty Ltd, Australia, incorporated three Round Kiwi stamps (green, red and blue) and the Taipei '93 logo. In addition, a rooster was included in the design to commemorate 1993 as the 'Year of the Rooster'. 


  1. Hi Lily
    Happy you like our Chinese stamps.

  2. This is a huge page. I have counted 125 pictures. I like the way you link to more detailed posts of each issue. This is a massive undertaking for just Chinese New Year even before I review other parts of your blog.

  3. Another year has been added. The Year of the Dog. I see the usual post with more details too.

  4. I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post. Chinese New Year 2023