New Issue: NZ Post marks Navy’s 75th anniversary

New Zealand Post has marked 75 years of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) with a new set of commemorative stamps celebrating the navy’s essential role.

Earlier this week, six stamps and a series of first-day covers were unveiled at the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy in Devonport, New Zealand. Each of the stamps commemorate a different part of RNZN history: the loss of HMS Neptune, Conflict in Korea, Women at sea, Supporting the United Nations, Disaster relief in Christchurch and The Navy family.

The design features a brass scuttle that was recovered from the wreck of the Moa, sunk by Japanese bombers in 1943. The scuttle frames the images on the stamps, which have been coated with spot UV, to replicate the effect of looking through glass.

“New Zealand Post has strong links with the Defence Force going back over 100 years,” said NZ Post director Simon Allison. “So we are very pleased to be able to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the navy with this special stamp issue, which highlights the many and varied roles undertaken by navy men and women.”


As the maritime arm of the New Zealand Defence Force, the RNZN is committed to defending New Zealand’s interests at sea and making a difference at home and abroad.

On Oct. 1, 1941, King George VI approved the navy’s “Royal” designation, creating the independent maritime force that is the RNZN today. Since then, many thousands have served with the Navy, playing a crucial role in contributing towards the prosperity and security of New Zealand.

The series

The series also includes first-day covers and mini sheets.


On Dec. 19, 1941 the cruiser HMS Neptune was lost in an enemy minefield off the North African coast.

A total of 757 officers and ratings lost their lives with Able Seaman John Norman Walton being the sole survivor. Amongst those lost were 150 New Zealanders who had joined the ship in preparation for its transfer to the RNZN, including the 19-year-old twins Bruce and William Anderson of Kohimarama, featured on this stamp. The sinking of Neptune led to the greatest loss of life ever suffered by the RNZN in a single action or incident.


During the Korean War six RNZN frigates—HMNZS Rotoiti, Pukaki (pictured on this stamp), Hawea, Taupo, Kaniere and Tutira—were deployed to the UN naval forces operating off Korea.

Two frigates were kept on station at all times. From shore bombardments to escort work, the frigates helped the land forces and secured the seas. About 1,350 officers and ratings served and in their eight tours of duty the New Zealand ships steamed a total of 339,584 miles and fired 71,625 rounds of ammunition in action. The deployment ran from July 1950 to March 1954.


In order to free men from shore-based tasks, women first entered the RNZN in 1942 with the formation of the WRNZNS.

The Wrens made a critical contribution in the fields of signalling and intelligence, and were also employed as drivers, boat crews and watch-keepers at headquarters ashore. 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of women first being posted to a seagoing ship, HMNZS Monowai. By the mid-1990s women were serving alongside men at sea in all our ships. Today women make up 22 per cent of New Zealand’s naval personnel and can serve in any trade.


Since the 1960s, the RNZN has supported the United Nations by sending ships and personnel on peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations.

New Zealand’s ships assisted in East Timor in 1999 and its frigates—HMNZS Te Kahaand HMNZS Te Mana (featured on this stamp during her 2004 deployment)—have operated with multinational naval forces in the Indian Ocean region, conducting counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and anti-piracy operations. Te Kaha conducted a successful maritime security patrol in 2015, intercepting several drug smugglers and seizing more than 260 kilograms of heroin.


The RNZN plays a significant role in humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and responded swiftly to the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.

When the February 2011 earthquake struck, HMNZS Canterbury, Otago and Pukaki immediately rendered assistance, providing emergency food and shelter. Canterbury later carried emergency supplies to Lyttelton while HMNZS Resolution carried out hydrographic survey operations in Akaroa and Lyttelton Harbours. Canterbury has also undertaken relief operations throughout the Pacific following natural disasters.


People come from all over New Zealand to serve in the RNZN, and the Navy’s core values of “Courage, Commitment and Comradeship” are instilled in recruits from the first day of service. Comradeship demands that members of the RNZN work together as an effective team, as they serve at the naval base and abroad for long periods of time. Their families who remain at home form an important part of the Navy’s wider whānau; without their ongoing support the Navy wouldn’t be able to advance New Zealand’s interests at sea.

A miniature sheet and first-day covers are also available. The first-day cover features a photo of HMNZS Endeavour I at McMurdo Sound in January 1957, and an Inshore Patrol Vessel is the focus of the miniature sheet.

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