NZ Post announces five-year commemorative stamp and coin programme

4 August 2014

New Zealand Post will mark the centenary of the First World War (1914-1918) with a five-year stamp and coin programme starting with 1914 - For King and Empire.

Each year’s issue will look at the key events of that year and the impact of the war on those New Zealanders who served and those who remained at home.

New Zealand Post Head of Stamps and Coins Simon Allison said part of each stamp issue in each of the five years will tell the wider story of the war through the eyes of an everyday New Zealander.

The first year’s stamp and coin issue will tell the story of West Coaster Melville Mirfin, and will be launched at a ceremony at 6.15pm at Te Papa.

“Melville Mirfin, like thousands of others, left his family behind and answered the call to defend country, King and Empire. But unlike so many of them, he not only survived the war, he survived action from one end of the war to the other.

“Until now his story has not been told.”

Melville Mirfin's son and other family members will be at the ceremony to read some of Melville’s postcards that he wrote during the war, Mr Allison said.

The stamps and coins are on sale at selected PostShops, on the New Zealand Post website (nzpost.co.nz/wwi) and at REAL Aotearoa.

The themes for the next four years are:

2015: The spirit of Anzac

2016: Courage and commitment

2017: The darkest hour

2018: Back from the brink.

Stamps and coins will be issued at the time of Anzac Day every year.

The Melville Mirfin Story

While it is impossible to tell every individual story of WWI, as part of each stamp issue over the five years New Zealand Post will tell the wider story of the war through the eyes of an everyday New Zealander.

In 2014 we will tell the story of Melville Mirfin. Like thousands of others, Melville Mirfin left his family behind and answered the call to defend King and Empire. But unlike so many of them, he not only survived the War, he survived action from one end of the war to the other, and until now his story has remained untold.

Born at Ikamatua on the West Coast of the South Island, Melville Mirfin spent 4 years and 359 days overseas. His postings ranged from Samoa in 1914 to Egypt in 1915, the Balkans in 1915, Egypt in 1916, the Western Front from 1916 to 1918 and finally the occupation of Germany in 1919. Outside of the officer corps, he must have been one of the longest serving New Zealand soldiers during World War 1.

Throughout the five-year programme the stamps will show a range of media to portray New Zealand’s involvement in the war. Posters, postcards, letters, diaries and photos that were brought home will show the mundane and the unimaginable to an extent never seen before. Though the servicemen may no longer be with us, those records live on, and it is our intent to remember, honour and commemorate those who bravely served 100 years ago.

Find out more about the full range of commemorative stamp and coin products including a special commemorative book telling the untold Melville Mirfin story, featuring never-before-seen imagery of the Great War through his eyes.