Chatham Islands

On 29 November 1791 Lieutenant William Broughton's storm driven brig 'Chatham' anchored off a large, unchartered island some 870 kilometres east of New Zealand. The long isolation of the island inhabitants, the Moriori, was over. Today, descendants of the Moriori who met Broughton on the sandy shore of Kaingaroa Harbour, are standing tall in a determined renaissance of their people. Some of their distinctive cultural emblems appear on the two stamps in this issue.

Issue information

Moriori blood was spilled on the day of Broughton's arrival. Before then, the Moriori seem to have lived without warfare. The incident forebode worse to come for the Chatham Islands' non militant inhabitants. European sealers soon killed off most of the seal population, a major source of food and clothing, and also introduced diseases to which the Moriori had no resistance. Then in 1835 900 mainland Maori of Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama invaded and dispossessed the surviving Moriori with much bloodshed.

At the time of William Broughton's arrival, there may have been up to 2,000 Moriori living in family settlements of 10-50 people. Today, the Chatham Islands are home to a resourceful community of 750 people who farm and fish successfully in the harsh environment, and trade their produce for supplies from the New Zealand mainland.

Product listing for Chatham Island

Click n image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'Culture' gummed stamp.

This stamp depicts a map locating the Chathams; a Royal Albatross, a source of food and wearable feathers to the Moriori; two design details from house-planks of a traditional Moriori house; a Moriori man with red parakeet feather hair ornament, albatross feather beard decoration, a staff, a woven flax loin garment and rain cape; a nikau palm, one of the more distinctive trees on the island; and a Moriori dendroglyph, or tree carving, found on neighbouring Pitt Island.

$0.40
Single Stamp

Single 80c 'Culture' gummed stamp.

This stamp depicts a map of the two largest islands in the group, Chatham and Pitt; a carving depicting what is thought to be a traditional Moriori god; William Broughton's vessel 'The Chatham' and a rowing boat with members of Broughton's crew; a petroglyph, or rock carving, depicting seals; a typical Moriori house from the 1870s; Tommy Solomon, who popular history has it, was the last full-blooded Moriori, and who died on the Chathams in 1933. His descendants still live in the Chathams today.

$0.80
First Day Cover  First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $1.45

Technical information

Date of issue:  6 March 1991
Designers: Ken Hall, Christchurch, NZ
Printer: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
Denominations: 40c & 80c
Stamp size: 28mm x 40mm
Sheet size: 100 stamps per sheet
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 13.5
Paper type: Peterborough Paper Convertors, red phosphor coated, unwatermarked
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 6 March 1992.