January 20, 2014

0975 NEW ZEALAND - The map and the flag of the country

Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, at 1,500km east of Australia, New Zealand (Aotearoa in Māori) comprises two main landmasses - the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu) - and numerous smaller islands. Is long and narrow, and has a mild and temperate maritime climate. The South Island is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, and the east side of the island is home to the Canterbury Plains, while the West Coast is famous for its rough coastlines such as Fiordland, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The North Island is less mountainous but is marked by volcanism. The highly active Taupo Volcanic Zone has formed a large volcanic plateau, punctuated by the island's highest mountain, Mount Ruapehu, and host of the country's largest lake, Lake Taupo, nestled in a caldera. The country owes the varied topography to its position straddling the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates. Actually it's part of Zealandia, a microcontinent that gradually submerged, after breaking away from the Gondwanan supercontinent. During its long isolation (80 million years), it developed a distinctive biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life, most notable being the large number of unique bird species.

New Zealand was one of the last major landmasses settled by humans. The Polynesians settled there between 1250 and 1300, and developed a distinctive Māori culture. The first European who reached there was Abel Tasman in 1642, but the islands weren't visited again until 1769, when James Cook mapped almost the entire coastline. The introduction of potatoes and muskets triggered upheaval among Māori early during the 19th century, which led to the inter-tribal Musket Wars. In 1840 the British Crown and Māori signed the Treaty of Waitangi, making New Zealand a British colony. Immigrant numbers increased sharply and conflicts escalated into the New Zealand Wars, which resulted in Māori land being confiscated in the mid North Island. In 1907 King Edward VII proclaimed New Zealand a dominion, reflecting its self-governing status. In 1947 the country adopted the Statute of Westminster, which established legislative equality for the self-governing dominions of the British Empire with the United Kingdom. New Zealanders enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in the 1950s, but the 1970s saw a deep recession, and during the 1980s the country underwent major economic changes. The majority of New Zealand's population is of European descent, but the indigenous Māori are a large minority. English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages. Much of the country's culture is derived from Māori and early British settlers.

The flag of New Zealand is a defaced Blue Ensign with the Union Flag in the canton, and four red stars with white borders to the right. The stars represent the constellation of Crux, the Southern Cross. New Zealand's first flag, the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand (adopted by an assembly of Māori chiefs before New Zealand became a British colony), was of a St George's Cross with another cross in the canton containing four stars on a blue field. The current flag was designed and adopted for restricted use in 1869 and became the national flag in 1902. Since 1990, Māori use also the Tino Rangatiratanga flag, the Official National Maori Flag, approved by the NZ Cabinet in 2010. Designed by Hiraina Marsden, Jan Smith and Linda Munn, consist of a white curling stripe on a red and black field.

About the stamp
The stamp is one of the six which constitute Māori Rock Art series, about which I wrote here.

New Zealand - Wikipedia

sender: Aaron Howard (direct swap)
sent from Timaru (Soth Island / New Zealand), on 04.07.2013

1 comment:

  1. I received the same postcard some years ago. And just this week I've been reading a lot about New Zealand, what two coincidences!