Apr 25, 2014

New Zealand - 2012 - Maori Rock Art

The Matariki 2012 stamp issue pays tribute to Māori rock art - a unique art form that gives fascinating insights into the earliest people of Aotearoa.

Matariki 2012 - Mini Sheet

Matariki is celebrated throughout New Zealand, but in the south, Puaka (Rigel, part of the Orion constellation) appears in the sky at the same time as Matariki, and is widely acknowledged.

Māori rock art is visible throughout the country and the stamps in this issue depict examples of rock art documented in Te Waipounamu (the South Island) where more than 500 sites have been recorded to date.
Rock art is applied to a variety of stone types, and while the common perception is that rock art was created using a burnt stick, the majority of the ‘drawings’ in Te Waipounamu appear to have been applied as pigment in solution. The style of Māori rock art is similar to that from wider Polynesia, suggesting that it was a practice brought to New Zealand by its earliest people.

Māori rock art gives a glimpse of New Zealand’s history and culture, and the drawings included on the six self-adhesive stamps in this issue portray animals now long extinct, representations of everyday life and depictions of the supernatural.

The rauru (spiral design) on the stamps pays respect to Rangi and Papa, and the light and knowledge that came about from their separation. The colours used in the rauru reflect the land and environment, and the koru represent growth and life and pay respect to the past, present and future.
to find out more.

Matariki 2012 - 70c - Pouākai, Pareora

70c - Pouākai, Pareora

Pouākai or ‘birdmen’ are partbird, part-human subjects that occur widely in Māori rock art in Te Waipounamu and wider Polynesia. The small birds on the outstretched wings of this figure are rarely depicted, and have so far only been recorded in two other sites.

Matariki 2012 - 70c - Tiki, Maerewhenua

70c - Tiki, Maerewhenua

At more than a metre high, this work is drawn on the ceiling of a small limestone shelter and depicts a seated tiki figure, drawn in profile. Profiled tiki figures such as this are sometimes placed back to back, the figures joining to form the frontal view of a single human figure.

Matariki 2012 - $1.40 - Mōkihi, Opihi

$1.40 - Mōkihi, Opihi

This drawing is thought to show two people on a mōkihi, a water craft made from raupō (bulrush) used to navigate the fast-flowing rivers of the southern regions. Rock art sometimes depicts everyday activities, giving us rare glimpses into the lives of the ancestors.

Matariki 2012 - $1.90 - Te Puawaitanga, Waitaki

$1.90 - Te Puawaitanga, Waitaki

This unique figure is commonly interpreted as a kiwi chick within an eggshell. Copied from a site on the banks of the Waitaki River, this image is one of the most frequently re-used rock art designs in contemporary Ngāi Tahu culture.

Matariki 2012 - $2.40 - Tiki, Te Ana a Wai 

$2.40 - Tiki, Te Ana a Wai 

Tiki figures may symbolise the people of the time, their ancestors or perhaps the generations to come. This drawing features one of the classic design elements in southern Mäori rock art - the blank central space in the body and head of the tiki.

Matariki 2012 - $2.90 - Taniwha, Opihi

$2.90 - Taniwha, Opihi

Drawings capturing supernatural taniwha can be found at a number of rock art sites in Te Waipounamu. This figure is one of two large interlocking taniwha. The entire composition is more than four metres wide, drawn on the ceiling of a shelter near the Opihi River.

#series - autoadhesive


Technical information

Date of issue: 6 June 2012
Number of stamps: Six self - adhesive stamps
Stamps, miniature sheet, first day covers and presentation pack designed by: Dave Burke Design, Auckland, New Zealand
Denominations: 70c (x2), $1.40, $1.90, $2.40 and $2.90
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 30mm x 40mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Self -adhesive: Tullis Russell PSA red phosphor stamp paper 210gsm. Gummed miniature sheets printed on Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 13.33 x 13.60
Period of sale: Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 5 June 2013

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