2006 Kapa Haka - Maori Performing Arts (Withdrawn Issue)


‘WOKE BRIGADE’ STAMPS OUT MĀORI HISTORY: Shocking Emails Reveal NZ Post’s Philatelic Fiasco

NZ Post

In this exclusive investigation, we uncover the astonishing truth behind the cancellation of NZ Post’s Māori Language Petition 50th anniversary stamps. Through the power of the Official Information Act (OIA), we have obtained a trove of internal emails that expose a shocking tale of mismanagement, cultural insensitivity accusations, cultural sensitivity accusations and last-minute chaos.

Image from a July 10 New Zealand Post email to philatelic customers that shows the four Maori Language Petition 50th Anniversary stamps, a souvenir sheet and first-day covers of both.

The commemorative stamps, meant to celebrate a milestone in New Zealand’s cultural history, were abruptly withdrawn just weeks before their highly anticipated August 3rd release. NZ Post, our national postal service, who had been collaborating with the Māori Language Commission (Maori: Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori), since January 2022, found itself embroiled in a scandal that has left collectors outraged and demanding answers.

Our investigation has revealed a disturbing lack of proper communication and insensitivity. In a damning July 28 email, the Māori Language Commission requested that “the stamps are redesigned with participation from [Hana Te Hemara’s] family, as well as our team from the very beginning: a co-design approach. The feeling is that while we went along with the invitation to tinker along the edges – the design concept had been set from the beginning and was intractable.” This bombshell revelation exposes the façade of collaboration and raises serious questions about NZ Post’s commitment to cultural sensitivity.

The family of Hana Te Hemara, a central figure in the Māori Language Petition, were also left feeling marginalized. Emails show they were concerned that the August 3 release date “doesn’t align with commemorations” and claimed that “these stamps are our taonga and require appropriate tikanga to be released.”

As the controversy unfolded, NZ Post found itself scrambling to contain the fallout. Frantic internal emails reveal the financial nightmare they faced, with one message admitting, “At this point any change to the stamps or removing a stamp would mean a reprint or reconstruction of most of our products… The overall cost to us for a reprint or change would be massive not only in terms of the cost of the printing but staff time and additional production costs.”

Shockingly, despite the urgency of the situation, the Māori Language Commission remained eerily silent. NZ Post’s increasingly desperate attempts to arrange a face-to-face meeting were met with a wall of silence. “No reply yet .. zippo ..” laments one frustrated employee. The lack of communication only fueled the growing sense of chaos and disarray.

Facing immense pressure, NZ Post made the jaw-dropping decision to cancel the stamp release entirely. An August 2 email concedes, “While we would be within our rights to [release the stamps], it’s not worth it given the potential reputation damage to NZ Post.” This stunning admission underscores the depth of the crisis and the fear of a public relations disaster.

The consequences of this decision have been nothing short of catastrophic. Customers were left bitterly disappointed, the philatelic community was thrown into turmoil, and an eye-watering $30,000 worth of printed stamps were condemned to destruction. Most heartbreakingly, the designer, found his tireless work reduced to ashes. An August 3 email reveals he was “very disappointed” and “gutted,” despite the fiasco being no fault of his own.

Graphic Press & Packaging Ltd
(First day cover printing)
Image licencing
(for first day cover)
Date stamping$426.70
Estimated staff labour$14,645.25

At the heart of this whole sordid affair lies a fundamental failure to grasp the concept of genuine collaboration. NZ Post seems to think that a few token nods to Māori culture constitute “co-design,” while the Māori Language Commission clearly felt they’ve been relegated to the status of glorified stamp-lickers. It’s a classic case of the blind leading the visually impaired.

2006 Kapa Haka – Maori Performing Arts (Withdrawn Issue)

However, this is not the first time NZ Post has found itself embroiled in controversy. Back in 2006, the “Kapa Haka – Māori Performing Arts” stamp issue, meant to celebrate the vibrant tradition of Māori haka, instead became a source of consternation and embarrassment for the postal service and was eventually withdrawn.

New Zealand Post’s Collectables division has now become a commericial venture and a overpriced commodity flogger.

Further reading:

1 thought on “‘WOKE BRIGADE’ STAMPS OUT MĀORI HISTORY: Shocking Emails Reveal NZ Post’s Philatelic Fiasco”

  1. oh shit look its a bunch of racists accusing everyone else of being racists.

    nice stamps, im sure they would have meant a lot to many people.

    this is why we can’t have nice things.


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