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As a small nation surrounded by water, New Zealand has relied on ships and vessels as a means of transport for as long as it's been inhabited. The 'Great Voyages of New Zealand' stamp issue features five vessels that have played a part in shaping New Zealand. 
 
2012 is a fitting time to look back at New Zealand's maritime history, as it marks a number of significant anniversaries, including 50 years of the Cook Strait Inter-Island Rail and Road Service. 100 years have passed since the Earnslaw was successfully launched, and it's been 130 years since the Dunedin completed the first successful shipment of frozen meat between New Zealand and England.
These important milestones are celebrated in the 'Great Voyages of New Zealand' stamp issue along with waka, which transported people and trade goods across Cook Strait, and the Rotomahana – the first ocean-going ship built of mild steel.
Whether they were enabling trade, increasing efficiencies or transporting people, each of the vessels in the 'Great Voyages of New Zealand' stamp issue has a unique story to tell.

70c - Aramoana

The Aramoana's big stern door transformed domestic transport in 1962. Prior to then, double-handling had made it too costly and slow for rail to compete with coastal ships, but roll-on, roll-off ships seamlessly connected the islands. In 2012 five such ships form a 'floating bridge'. The 4,160-ton road/rail ferry Aramoana served until 1984.

$1.40 - Waka

Over time Māori developed a range of distinctive dugout canoes ranging from the imposing waka taua (war canoes) to the humbler fishing canoes, river canoes and reed and flax craft. Usually paddled but sometimes assisted by mat sails, the bigger vessels could transport large quantities of people and trade goods across Cook Strait.

$1.90 - Earnslaw

Tourists walk the triple - expansion steamer Earnslaw's decks these days, but 100 years ago the 'Lady of the Lake' was a hard-working passenger, freight and livestock carrier, one of several linking the isolated farms and settlements of Lake Wakatipu. Designed and built in Dunedin and reassembled at the lakeside in 1912, the Earnslaw still burns coal today.

$2.40 - Dunedin

In 1874 the Albion Line (later Shaw Savill & Albion) commissioned the 1,320-ton Dunedin for the immigrant trade, which it served until being converted in 1881 to carry frozen meat. A regular caller to Oamaru, the Dunedin vanished with all 35 crew after sailing from that port for London in March 1890; the ship probably hit an iceberg.

$2.90 - Rotomahana

With its rakish bow, masts and funnel, the Rotomahana looked like an elegant steam yacht. The first ocean-going ship built of mild steel, the 15.5- knot 'Greyhound of the Pacific' spearheaded the Union Steam Ship Company's grab for the trans-Tasman trade in the late 1870s. The 1,727-ton ship later served on the Wellington-Lyttelton and Melbourne-Hobart runs before being discarded in 1925.

Great Voyages on great collectables

The 'Great Voyages of New Zealand' stamp issue is not complete without the miniature sheet, first day cover and miniature sheet first day cover. The first day covers feature imagery of historical nautical maps as well as two unique datestamps.
The premium collectable in the 'Great Voyages of New Zealand' stamp issue is the Limited Edition. It contains a booklet written by Neill Atkinson and gives an in-depth history of New Zealand's maritime trade history. Neill is Chief Historian at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. He has written several books on New Zealand's political, labour and transport history. Plate blocks of each of the five stamps are included within the booklet. This highly collectable Limited Edition also contains a special first day cover signed by Neill Atkinson, a unique numbered miniature sheet, a complete set of stamps and colour  separations of the $2.90 stamp.

Acknowledgements

New Zealand Post wishes to acknowledge the following for their assistance and guidance in bringing together this special stamp release celebrating great voyages of New Zealand:
Victor Young
Alexander Turnbull Library
Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago
Real Journeys
PIM Collection
KiwiRail
Museum of City and Sea
Gavin McLean, Senior Historian, Manatū Taonga - Guest writer, presentation pack
Neill Atkinson, Chief Historian, Manatū Taonga - Ministry for Culture and Heritage -Guest writer, Limited Edition
Technical information
Date of issue: 5 September 2012
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Stamps, miniature sheet, first day covers and presentation pack designed by: Creature, Wellington, New Zealand
Denominations: 70c, $1.40, $1.90, $2.40 and $2.90
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 40mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Stamps: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper. Miniature Sheet: Tullis Russell 104gsm non-phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14
Period of sale: Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 4 September 2013
 

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