New Zealand Post's Matariki stamps flying high

9 June 2010

He manu tukutuku te rangi ka uhia he huruhuru te manu ka tau
Kites adorn the sky as feathers adorn the birds

'Manu tukutuku' – or Maori kites – are the theme of the third annual New Zealand Post Matariki stamp series, marking the dawn of the new Maori year.

"They have rich cultural significance and as an integral part of Maori tradition and rituals, manu tukutuku continue to play a strong part in Matariki celebrations across the country."

The stamps are a collaboration between New Zealand Post, cultural organisations, specialist designers and artists, including leading traditional and contemporary weaver, Veranoa Hetet.

Ms Hetet was specially commissioned by New Zealand Post to create two of the kites featured in the stamp release – the manu pātiki on the $1.00 stamp and the ūpoko tangata on the $2.30 stamp. The manu pātiki takes the form familiar to many modern kite makers – two rods crossed at right angles. The finished shape was likened to a flounder (pātiki).

The ūpoko tangata, traditionally named after the plant they were made from, were smaller than other kites and it is believed they were made for younger kite flyers.

"Making the manu tukutuku was a wonderful experience and reminded me of my childhood and also of learning tukutuku from my father and of weaving with my mother - skills I needed when making these manu tukutuku," said Veranoa Hetet.

The 50 cent stamp shows the manu aute, a kite in the shape of a bird that traditionally represents the manifestation of a person's soul or spirit. The manu aute on the stamp is one of the largest birdlike kites and is thought to be the oldest of all surviving specimens. It is held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tamaki Paenga Hira.

The manu taratahi on the $1.80 stamp is one of only four known specimens that have survived to the present day. Manu taratahi were named after the single plume projecting from the upper end of the kite (taratahi means end point). The kite featured on this stamp is also part of the Auckland War Memorial Museum's collection.

As has become a tradition for this issue, the stamps in the 2010 Matariki stamp range released today carry the name 'Aotearoa' as well as the standard ‘New Zealand’ identification, while some of the special pieces that complete range feature the seven stars of Matariki, known as the Pleiades constellation.

The full Matariki 2010 stamp range includes 4 stamps, first day covers, a miniature sheet, presentation pack and Limited Edition publication. It is available for purchase from 9 June 2010 at all New Zealand PostShops, the Wanganui Collectables and Solution Centre, REAL Aotearoa stores and online at www.nzpost.co.nz/stamps.