Friday, May 21, 2010

New Zealand at Shanghai World Expo 2010

Madhavi from Auckland sent me this stunning miniature sheet commemorating New Zealand’s participation in the Expo at Shanghai. China and New Zealand are two very different nations. China is one of the world's oldest civilisations, while NZ promotes itself as ‘the youngest country on Earth'. China is home to 1.3 billion people, NZ the equivalent size of a very average Chinese city. But the two countries have much in common too, and a deep and lasting relationship at many levels. A set of postage stamps issued in New Zealand on 30 April 2010 is designed to capture some of the similarities that exist between the two nations, from jade and pounamu to indigenous stories of creation, guardianship to treasures of the natural environment. The NZ images reflect artefacts on display at the NZ Pavilion.
Described on NZ Post’s website as “innovative yet elegantly classical”, the stamps depict a series of scenes that connect with the Expo and its theme of ‘Better City, Better Life’. New Zealand’s presence at the Expo seeks to show off the unique NZ way of life, an elaborate exhibition of ‘Cities of Nature, Living between Land and Sky’.
It is those special features of a stunning NZ pavilion that have inspired the designs in the five stamps that make up the set. Each stamp depicts a scene in both New Zealand and China, resulting in a product that is twice the size of the standard NZ postage stamp. The details of the stamps are as follows: -
50c – Pohutukawa and Peony, Native Flora: The New Zealand pohutukawa and China’s peony are depicted on the 50-cent stamp. Both flowers are red, a colour of significance to Maori and Chinese cultures. There is also a depiction of a pohutukawa tree – the artificial one that is part of the rooftop garden at the New Zealand pavilion in Shanghai's Expo Park.
$1.00 – Kaitiaki and Fu Dog, Symbolic Protectors: The kaitiaki of the Maori and China’s fu dog are strikingly similar in their roles. Kaitiaki stands guard over the natural world, while pairs of fu dogs protect against ill fortune. They are commonly seen outside Chinese business premises in the form of lion dogs. There are eight different kaitiaki built into the New Zealand pavilion garden.
$1.80 – Tane, Pan Gu and Stories of Creation: Pan Gu is depicted as a superior being that created the world when he separated the heaven and the earth from chaos. His body parts then became the earth, the sun, the moon and the clouds. Tane, the god of the forests and birds, created the Maori world of light by separating his parents, the sky father and earth mother. At the New Zealand Expo pavilion, a carving of Tane forms a gateway through which visitors pass.
$2.30 – Auckland and Shanghai - Supercities, Relatively Speaking: tall, needle-like towers dominate the skylines of the largest cities in each country. Auckland has its Sky Tower, Shanghai the Oriental Pearl Tower in Pudong. Both are depicted on the $2.30 stamp.
$2.80 – Heitiki and Cong, Pounamu and Jade: Pounamu to the Maori, jade is an important aspect of the cultures and history of both New Zealand and China. The $2.80 stamp shows the similarity of usage in the heitiki and the cong. Both were ornamental symbols of rank; while the heitiki denotes achievement and authority, the cong is a symbol of good luck.
All five stamps are 80mm high and 30mm wide. Their date of issue is 30 April 2010.

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