150 Years of Parliament

In 1854 New Zealand's the first official Parliament assembled in what was then the capital city of Auckland.

Issue information

If you either lived in or have visited New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, you can't fail to have heard about (and no doubt visited) our Beehive. It's a hub of political influence - the centre of operations for the Executive Wing of our parliament, and a highly distinctive landmark on Wellington's physical and political landscape.

Completed in 1981, the Beehive is the newest of our parliamentary buildings. It was also a feature of 150 Years of Parliament stamp issue. These five elegant stamps, miniature sheet and first day covers recalled the buildings that have housed our goverment representatives ever since the first parliament was established in 1854. They were a pictorial guide through a history of architectural styles that has spanned Victorian Gothic to 'moderne classical brutalist' - an intriguing label that somehow aptly conveys the Beehive's essential qualities!

A Timeless Reminder

Whether made of wood or concrete, and whether they are still standing or but distant memories, these buildings have played a vital role in New Zealand's history either politically or architecturally. It is fitting, therefore, that we issued the stamps 150 years after the first parliament was elected in this young and vibrant country - and remember the many generations of parliamentarians who have worked so hard in the nation's interests.

New Zealand took its first important steps towards democracy when the first official parliament assembled in what was then the capital city of Auckland. Its representatives were tasked with an important and influential role: making the laws that would govern this relatively young country, and keeping the work of government under scrutiny and review. The 1854 Parliament commenced with 37 members. Since then, times and demands, like the number of members - now 120, have changed dramatically, with inevitable and significant effects on parliamentary accommodation.

150 Years of Architecture

All five of the stamps were included in an elegant miniature sheet - a timeless record of the significant architecture in the 150-year history of New Zealand's Parliamentary system.

The miniature sheet also featured as part of a first day cover, together with an illustration of the parliamentary Mace. Symbolising the authority of the Queen, the Speaker and the House, the Mace remains in the House whenever parliament is in session.

The Mace also featured on our stamp first day cover. This replica of the one used in the British House of Commons is just over one metre long and made of sterling silver gilded with gold. Its head comprises a large crown and orb, a Maltese Cross and four shields. Three of the shields feature emblems of the Isles (a rose, a harp and a thistle) while the fourth has the four stars of the Southern Cross to symbolise New Zealand.

Product Listing for 150 Years of Parliament

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'Parliament Building, Auckland 1854' gummed stamp.

New Zealand's first Parliament was housed in a specially constructed building in central Auckland near to Government House, the official residence of the Governor of the Colony. There, on 24 May 1854, the 37 Members of Parliament began their work after a first-past-the-post election that involved 24 single and multi-member electorates. Since then, 46 Parliaments have been elected, making New Zealand one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the world.  The site is now a historical reserve - none of the original buildings remain.

$0.40
Single Stamp

Single 90c 'Parliament Buildings, Wellington (Provincial Chambers) 1865' gummed stamp.

In 1865 the New Zealand Parliament moved cities - to the Provincial Council Chambers in Wellington. Built in 1857, the building was designed with the needs of Parliament in mind, a key strategy in Wellington's campaign to become the country's new capital city. The building was sold to the new colonial Government and renamed the General Assembly Building.

$0.90
Single Stamp

Single $1.30 'Parliament Buildings, Wellington 1899' gummed stamp.

Almost immediately on taking ownership, the new Government began a series of extensions to the General Assembly Building - including, in 1899, the General Assembly Library. Made of brick, cement and plaster in Gothic Revival style, it was the only building to survive a disastrous fire in 1907 that destroyed the adjacent (wooden) General Assembly Building. Damaged by another fire in 1992, the renamed 'Parliamentary Library' has since been completely refurbished and strengthened against earthquakes.

$1.30
Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Parliament House, Wellington 1918' gummed stamp.

In 1912 work commenced on a replacement Parliament House on land adjacent to the former General Assembly building. The new building was occupied in 1918 and has been the home of the New Zealand Parliament ever since. However in 1992 the building was temporarily vacated so that it could be refurbished and strengthened against earthquakes. It was reoccupied in 1996. Originally designed in a competition by architects John Campbell and Claude Paton, this Edwardian neo-classical building has a base of Coromandel granite and upper storeys of Takaka marble. The interior features New Zealand native timbers.

$1.50
Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'The Beehive, Wellington 1977' gummed stamp.

The 14-storey Beehive is more than the Executive Wing of Parliament; it is a focal point of the Wellington landscape. Unique in New Zealand, it was designed by Sir Basil Spence, an internationally significant architect known for his controversial works. This circular, reinforced concrete structure was built according to a 'moderne classical brutalist' style. Originally conceived in 1965, construction began in 1970 and finished in 1981.

$2.00
Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $6.10
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.60
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.60

Technical information

Date of issue: 3 March 2004
Number of stamps: Five
Denominations and designs: 40c Parliament Building - Auckland 1854, 90c Parliament Buildings - Wellington (Provincial Chambers) 1865, $1.30 Parliament Buildings - Wellington 1899, $1.50 Parliament House - Wellington 1918, $2.00 The Beehive - Wellington 1977
Stamps and miniature sheet designed by: Dean Gray, Wellington
Printer and process: Wallsall Security Printing by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 35mm x 28mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 50
Perforation gauge: 14.4 x 14.2
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode, value blocks and logo blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least two stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B format.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 2 March 2005.