The ancestors of New Zealand’s Māori people arrived in canoes from Pacific islands before 1300 AD. The Māori had no written language and thus their history and legends were passed on orally from generation to generation, and through carving and weaving.
That gave a valuable insight into the way Māori people viewed and personified the earth, sea and sky. The 1994 New Zealand Post stamp issue shown at the top of the article looks at six fascinating Māori myths. For more on these legends click on the following link https://stamps.nzpost.co.nz/new-zealand/1994/maori-myths-lengends
In the first half of the 20th century important leaders such as Āpirana Ngata and Te Puea Hērangi worked to make life better for Māori and to revive the culture. There was a new interest in the language, and in arts such as carving and weaving.
The above stamps have portraits of five great 19th-20th Century Māori figures. Left to right we have Te Heu Heu Tukino IV – 15c, he was a paramount chief of the Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe, he gave the three central North Island mountain peaks of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu to the nation in 1887, the year before he died. Te Hau-Takiri Wharepapa – 25c, one of the chiefs who sailed to England in 1862 to meet Queen Victoria and returned with an English wife. Princess Te Puea Herangi – 35c, a tribal leader whose heroic efforts established the Turangawaewae Marae at Ngaruawahia. Princess Te Puea died at Turangawaewae in 1952. Sir Apirana Ngata – 45c, Māori leader, politician, statesman and scholar, he represented the Eastern Māori electorate in the House of Representatives from 1905 to 1943. Hakopa Te Ata-o-tu – 60c, was a warrior of high rank, who was captured and became a slave, being liberated later when the tribes embraced Christianity.
The miniature sheet shown here has two 40 cent stamps and features a reconstruction of the Treaty-signing ceremony in a marquee at Waitangi on 6 February 1840. It depicts an original water colour painting by Len Mitchell, father of the miniature sheet designer.
Leading Māori Chiefs, Lieutenant Governor William Hobson and a collection of both Māori and Pakeha advisers and onlookers gathered for a meeting that would seek the Māori leaders’ “free and intelligent consent” delivering the sovereignty of the land to the British Crown. A lengthy debate took place in the marquee.
The next day, 46 head chiefs and Hobson signed what is now known as the ‘Treaty of Waitangi‘. Eventually, some 500 signatures were gathered – yet chiefs of some important tribes never signed. This milestone in New Zealand’s history was commemorated by the special miniature sheet.
The Treaty of Waitangi is perhaps the most important single document in New Zealand’s history.
Part 2 to follow