Recovering Native Birds

Predators and habitat loss have led to the steady decline of many of our native bird species. But with New Zealand agencies such as the Wildlife Services and the Department of Conservation, many of those species are finally on the increase.  

Issue information

New Zealand’s native birds have a unique history in terms of how and why they adapted into the mostly flightless species we are so well acquainted with today. A predominant lack of mammalian predators in the early days of their evolution meant that many species began to grow larger and lost the ability to fly. With the main predator being other birds, many native species also evolved without the instinct to run from trouble.

This posed a huge problem when the arrival of humans brought with it the arrival of mammalian predators such as rats, cats and stoats, all of which still pose a threat to our native species today.

This stamp issue focused on five native bird species that have been brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to the hard work of agencies such as the Wildlife Service and the Department of Conservation. Their great work has seen them go on to become world leaders in bird conservation. 

First Day Covers and Miniature Sheets 

Each first day cover depicted a native bird thriving in its natural habitat along with each of the gummed stamps. A limited edition first day cover and miniature sheet were also available as part of the limited edition pack with imagery of more of our recovering native birds. 

Limited Edition and Presentation Pack 

You could learn more about the incredible evolution of New Zealand’s native birds in these detailed packs. Discover why New Zealand has so many flightless birds and find out how various organisations are creating effective techniques to protect and increase the numbers of our unique birdlife. With further detail on each bird featured on the stamps as well as more stunning photography, these pack were a welcome gift to any stamp collector or bird enthusiast.  

Product Listing for Recovering Native Birds

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Campbell Island Teal' gummed stamp. 

This flightless duck was believed to be extinct due to predation by rats and cats on Campbell Island. In 1975, less than 30 birds were discovered on nearby Dent Island. Of these, 11 were caught to establish a captive-breeding programme at Pukaha/Mt Bruce. After years of failure, one of the three females finally bred, and the captive population then flourished. In 2000, 24 captive-bred birds were released on Codfish Island pending the eradication of rats from Campbell Island which was accomplished in 2001. Between 2004 and 2006 150 teal were returned home. The total population at the time of this stamp issue was over 250 birds. 

$1.00
Single Stamp

Single $2.20 'Black Stilt' gummed stamp.

A combination of predation by feral cats and other carnivorous mammals, loss of breeding habitat, and cross breeding with pied stilts, reduced the population of pure black stilts to a few dozen birds in the Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury. Control of predators and weeds in breeding areas, and collection of eggs for artificial incubation at special facilities near Twizel has seen the population rise to about 100 birds at the time of this stamp issue, despite occasional setbacks from severe winter weather.  

$2.20
Single Stamp

Single $2.30 'North Island Kākā' gummed stamp. 

Kākā nest in tree cavities in old forests, and while this provides good protection from the elements, it makes them vulnerable to mammalian predators, especially stoats. In many mainland populations the sex ratio of this parrot is skewed in favour of males because many females are killed on the nest. Possums and rats compete for fruit but pest control and eradication from islands, and the creation of fenced sanctuaries, has seen rapid growth from about 3,000 birds to over 5,000 at the time of this stamp issue, and has balanced the sex ratio.

$2.30
Single Stamp

Single $2.70 'South Island Saddleback' gummed stamp.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, introduced predators exterminated this ancient wattlebird from the South and Stewart Islands, leaving them living on just three islands off the southwestern corner of Stewart Island. In 1963, ship rats reached these remaining islands and emergency action was taken in 1964 to transfer 36 birds to two nearby rat-free islands. They flourished and have since been shifted to many other islands that were naturally free of rats, or that had been successfully cleared of rats, and at the time of this stamp issue number over 2,000 birds. 

$2.70
Single Stamp

Single $3.30 'Northern New Zealand Dotterel' gummed stamp.

This wader breeds mainly on the sandy coasts of the northern North Island. Coastal breeding brings problems such as nests being destroyed by off-road vehicles and accidental disturbance by beachgoers. Predation by cats, stoats, ferrets and other carnivorous mammals is an ongoing serious problem. Protection of favoured breeding sites with temporary fences and pest control has led to strong population increases in eastern Northland, Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty bringing the overall population up from 1,350 in the 1990s to more than 2,000 at the time of this stamp issue.

$3.30
Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $11.50
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. cancelled on the first day of issue. $12.00
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $12.00
Presentation Pack

You could learn more about the incredible evolution of New Zealand’s native birds in this detailed pack. Discover why New Zealand has so many flightless birds and find out how various organisations are creating effective techniques to protect and increase the numbers of our unique birdlife. With further detail on each bird featured on the stamps as well as more stunning photography, this pack would of been a welcome gift to any stamp collector or bird enthusiast.

Still available to purchase. Click here.

$29.90
Limited Edition

The limited edition was the ultimate collectors item for this issue. It included the full set of stamps in even more depth and detail and a closer look at the statistics surrounding each bird. You could learn about the conservation techniques and the unique evolution of New Zealand’s birdlife with a booklet written by Hugh Roberston, an ornithologist and author. There was a special numbered, perforated miniature sheet unique to the pack and a limited edition first day cover signed by Lou Sanson, the Director General of DOC.  

Still available to purchase. Click here.

$135.00

Technical information

Date of issue: 2 August 2017
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Denominations: $1.00, $2.20, $2.30, $2.70 & $3.30
Stamps, miniature sheet and first day cover designed by: Jonathan Gray, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd, New Zealand by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours (CMYK) plus high gloss litho vanish
Stamp size and format: 48mm x 30mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14.585 x 14
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 1 August 2018. First day covers remained on sale until 1 October 2017.