First World War in New Zealand –commemorating issue

June 28th, 2014

The declaration of war affected nearly every New Zealander; with a population of just one million and approximately 100,000 people being sent overseas to war, around 18,500 New Zealanders would not make it home.

In the coming years of this five-year commemorative programme, the collectors can look at the war from a New Zealand perspective.

80c Lord Kitchener

Lord Kitchener (Kitchener of Khartoum) is the embodiment of the Empire and its influence in New Zealand in the years leading into World War One. He recommended the withdrawal of New Zealand troops from Gallipoli in 1915, before perishing onboard the HMS Hampshire in 1916.

80c New Zealand called to prepare

The Defence Act of 1909 was the first step towards compulsory military training, enacted in 1911 (on advice from Lord Kitchener). By 1911, posters such as this one could be seen throughout New Zealand.

80c War announced

When war was announced on the 5th of August 1914 (New Zealand time) it was not a declaration as such, but a proclamation that, as part of the British Empire, New Zealand was at war.

80c Serving his country – Melville Mirfin

Melville Mirfin was a bank clerk from a family of seven from Ikamatua on the West Coast of the South Island, who, alongside many others, signed up for war the same week of the proclamation on August 5th.

80c Family portrait

War inevitably split families across continents and the Mirfin Family is pictured here prior to war, showing all the brothers who would serve and survive.

80c Troopships depart

The Limerick, also known as HMNZT 7, was one of ten troopships in the 'First Fleet' that took the NZEF, their horses, and equipment to Egypt in 1914, meeting up with the Australian Imperial Force enroute.

$2.00 Training camp

Training camps such as this one in Canterbury readied troops for the NZEF, destined for Europe (they would instead go to Egypt) before the year’s end.

$2.00 The home front

Karaka Bay, Wellington, in 1914 – Semi-rural, with some modernity, less than half New Zealand's population prior to World War One was considered urban, a number that would increase to sixty per cent by the war's end.

$2.50 Letters and stories from Samoa

New Zealand's first duty in World War One was capturing Samoa from the Germans. Melville Mirfin, who had signed up for the NZEF in the first days of August, travelled to Samoa with 1,385 men, during which he would write many times to his family.

$2.50 Serving abroad – Egypt

By the end of 1914 the first troops of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force had arrived in Egypt for training. For many it was their first time away from New Zealand shores, and they found themselves in front of the Pyramids of Egypt, ready for what was supposed to be the great adventure.

The first stamps in this special five-year commemorative programme are complemented by the sheetlet, two miniature sheets, first day cover and two miniature sheet first day covers.