Centenary of Pigeon Post

Great Barrier Island holds the distinction of being the first place in New Zealand to have a regular airmail service - 22 years before the first aeroplane service took to the skies. In May 1897, a postal message winged its way from Great Barrier Island to Auckland. The carrier was a pigeon.

Issue information

Before long there were two pigeon mail companies at work. Great Barrier's unique pigeon mail services lasted for several colourful years, however, the laying of an underwater telegraphic cable in 1908 ushered in their demise.

To celebrate the centenary of the first pigeon-gram, New Zealand Post issued two stamps featuring the original triangular design of stamps produced in 1899 by The Great Barrier Pigeongram Agency. This unofficial service (not run by The New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department) produced the country's first 'airmail' stamps.

The original design was by Maori war veteran H.C. Wrigg, holder of the coveted New Zealand Cross, and the stamp was printed by The Auckland Star. The original colours of carmine (1s) and dull blue (6d) were used in the new issue.

Centenary of the Pigeon-gram - 40c
The stamp is based on the original triangular stamp designs produced in 1899 by The Great Barrier Pigeongram Agency.

Centenary of the Pigeon-gram - 80c
The stamp is based on the original triangular stamp designs produced in 1899 by The Great Barrier Pigeongram Agency.

Pacific '97 Pigeon-gram Miniature Sheet
Issued 29 May 1997
A triangular miniature sheet was produced, incorporating two 40c and two 80c Centenary of Pigeon-gram stamps, to commemorate the Pacific '97 World Philatelic Exhibition held in San Francisco 29 May - 8 June 1997.

Technical information

Date of Issue:  7 May 1997
Stamp Designers: Stephen Fuller, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
Stamp Size: 41mm x 36mm (triangular); Miniature Sheet Size: 138mm x 121mm (triangular)
Sheet Size: 50 stamps per sheet; Miniature sheet of four stamps
Process: Lithography
Perforation Gauge: 13.75 x 14
Paper Type: Red phosphor coated, unwatermarked