New Zealand is home to some truly beautiful stained-glass windows, which add character and charm to churches and buildings throughout the country. The Christmas 2015 stamp issue features five vibrant stained-glass windows, ranging in design from the traditional to the contemporary.
Stained-glass windows date back to ancient times, with some existing in Britain possibly as early as the 7th century. The movement gained popularity in the Middle Ages as a way to convey narratives from the Bible to the masses, and has evolved over time to incorporate more colour and detail.
Date of Issue : 4 November 2015
An innovative miniature sheet
As part of this special Christmas issue, NZ Post created a unique miniature sheet that encapsulates the theme of stained-glass windows. The miniature sheet is printed on translucent gummed paper and is die-cut in the shape of traditional stained-glass church windows.
The colourful stamps in this issue feature Christmas-related imagery from stained-glass windows around New Zealand, ranging from central characters from the nativity story to the ‘New Zealand Christmas tree’, the pōhutukawa.
80c - Angel
This stained-glass depiction of an angel is part of the Kelvin and Janice Loveday commemorative window in St Mark’s Church, Carterton. Angels play an important role in the nativity story, with the Angel Gabriel telling Mary that she would give birth to Jesus and an angel bringing the news of Jesus’s birth to the shepherds.
$1.40 - Dove
The dove is recognised as a symbol of peace as well as one of the forms of the Holy Spirit. Doves are often seen as a decoration on New Zealand Christmas trees. The dove depicted on this stamp is part of a larger stained-glass window at St Aidan’s Anglican Church, Remuera, Auckland.
$2.00 - Mary and Jesus
This vibrant stained-glass window sits inside St Mary’s-in-Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland and depicts Mary with the baby Jesus. According to the nativity story Mary and Joseph were unable to find a room at the inn, and took shelter in a stable in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.
$2.50 - Pōhutukawa
Often referred to as the New Zealand Christmas tree, the native pōhutukawa is symbolic of summer and the festive season. The pöhutukawa shown on this stamp is part of a larger window in the Christchurch Hospital Nurses Memorial Chapel.
$3.00 - Wise Men
According to the nativity story, the three wise men were kings of the East who were led to where Jesus lay by an angel. There they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This stained-glass window is one of three windows portraying the nativity story in St Benedict’s Church, Auckland.
Stunning self-adhesive stamps
To help people with their local and international Christmas sending, three self-adhesive stamps will be issued in denominations of 80c, $2.00 and $2.50.
Special First Day Covers
The design of the miniature sheet first day cover cleverly incorporates the translucent miniature sheet to depict an actual stained-glass window. Through the top of the window pane, views of New Zealand's christmas tree, the pōhutukawa can be seen.