NORFOLK ISLAND ... by Andrew McNiven

Friday, July 29, 2016
My excuse for missing the last meeting was that I was offshore – enjoying some R&R on Norfolk Island. What some of you may not be aware of is that from 1 July 2016 the Australian Government (mainland) taxation, social security, immigration, biosecurity, customs and health arrangements extend to Norfolk Island and the island is now governed from Australia with a Norfolk Island Regional Council (NIRC) being elected.

The state government of New South Wales will provide some government services – such as for school education and health services and advice about financial services for NIRC.

New Zealanders who reside on the island are covered in legislation on the same terms as if they resided on mainland Australia.

For federal elections Norfolk Islanders will have a single electorate in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

At the last census in 2011 the total population (excluding tourists) was 1796, 80% are Australian citizens and 13% hold New Zealand citizenship. 38% are descendants of the Pitcairn Islanders who settled on Norfolk Island in 1856.

For stamp collectors and postal historians the change has been notable – the building that housed the Norfolk Island Philatelic Bureau, Post Office as well as the private boxes and sorting centre – shown left – was “empty” the week we were there. An Australia Post mailbox showing cleared Mon – Fri without any time was affixed to the wall outside the building.

The Post Office had shifted to the small supermarket across and down the road, shown above right which has two counter positions and a range of product display – along with the private boxes accessible from the left-hand door. A posting box (also without time of clearance) is attached to the wall.

I saw a total of four Australia Post mailboxes in my travels around Norfolk Island – the other two being – one at the entrance to the shopping mall and the other being at the entrance to the airport.

For other photos and a write-up on the former Post Office & Philatelic Sales Office – go to
The Philatelic Bureau on Norfolk Island has ceased to exist. In their last communication with collectors on 3 June - they issued a list of what stamps were still available and advised that these could be ordered up until 31 December 2016. 

The last stamp issued was released on 7 June 2016 – a day prior to the 160th anniversary of the landing of the Pitcainers on Norfolk Island. The $5 stamp sheet depicts a photograph looking down to Kingston Pier their point of arrival in 1856. The selvage features a ledger book that John Buffett found in the store house the day he and other Pitcairners arrived on Norfolk Island, and he used it as a diary.

4,500 sheets and 500 FDC’s were printed by Southern Colour Print, Dunedin. 

With Norfolk Island stamps not being valid for postage from 1 July 2016, The Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989 applies and the administration took over the responsibility for the administration of its postal system including the development and production of its stamps. The inscription on the stamps will be shown as Norfolk Island, Australia with these stamps being valid for use in Australia as well as on Norfolk Island. Likewise Australian stamps will be valid for use on Norfolk Island.

The first issue for Norfolk Island, which won’t be released until September will feature its fantastic birdlife with "2 iconic birds" of the island - the Red-tailed tropicbird and the masked booby. The subject was suggested by an organisation called Parks Australia. Why the Norfolk Island Regional Council and Norfolk Islanders themselves were not allowed to choose the subjects for the stamps on which the name of their home is printed, and why Australia Post didn’t have the issue ready for 1 July – I don’t know.

Six scenic postage paid postcards were also being released (at $2.20 per postcard) featuring the views of – Cemetery Bay, Emily Bay, Kingston, Quality Row, Royal Engineers Office and St Barnabas Chapel.

Norfolk Island stamps are sought after by many within the philatelic world, and the territory has a long established and active participation in the collector market.
Tasmanian stamps were used on Norfolk Island from 1853 until 1856, but after the abandonment of the convict settlement and the transfer of the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856, postal services were practically non-existent on the Island for the next 40 years, although New South Wales stamps were used from 1877 until the early 1880's.

The first recorded use of Norfolk Islands own distinctive post marker occurred on 13th March 1891 but there was little opportunity for it to be used, as postage stamps were not available for purchase on the Island. The situation improved around 1898 when NSW stamps were placed on sale and this continued on until 1913 when they were supplanted by the first Commonwealth issue the Kangaroo series of 1913. 

About 1923, the first of the unsuccessful efforts was made to obtain distinctive postage stamps for Norfolk Island, but the issue lapsed until 1937 when Norfolk Island secured final approval to have distinctive postage stamps in late 1939. The stamps were printed by the Note Printing Branch in Australia in 1940, but because of wartime conditions the issue did not proceed. 

In 1947 authorisation for the destruction of the printed stock was completed but some were stolen before Destruction was completed and these subsequently reached the philatelic market. They are readily distinguishable as they are perf 11 while the initial issue of 1947 was perf 14. 

During most of the period of World War II Norfolk Island was garrisoned by New Zealand Army and Airforce units which established their own postal service.
Norfolk Island assumed full control of its postal affairs along with the first issue of Norfolk Island stamps on 10 June 1947. Since then the territory has had complete control and responsibility for its stamp issues. Designs are predominantly of island interest and include convict heritage, pitcairn heritage, tourism, local fauna and flora and special events. A small selection is shown below, reproduced from -

While looking at the Norfolk Islands Philatelic Bureau website - I was surprised to find that their 2015 Christmas in July issue featured two New Zealand singers – John Rowles (.25c) and Suzanne Prentice (.35c)

In May 2014 the 20th Trans-Tasman set of Entertainer of the Year features on the $1.65 stamp Kiwi Dennis Marsh winner of 8 Gold and 2 Platinum Awards.  

In addition New Zealand Freestyle Motorcross riders Joe McNaughton and Callum Shaw feature on a set of four 2013 stamps issued to commemorate the Trans Tasman Challenge hosted by the Norfolk Island Junior Rugby League (whos logo appears in the top left hand corner of the issue.

The 70th Anniversary set of Aircraft Landing on Norfolk Island feature several NZ carrier aircraft  - 
Top row 1st stamp – RNZAF Hudson Bomber – was the first aircraft to land on the island on Christmas Day 1942. 
Top row 2nd stamp – Douglas DC3 the first regular weekly aircraft from New Zealand beginning on 2 November 1947.
Top row 5th stamp – Focker F27 Friendship which Air NZ flew regularly to the island. 
2nd row  6th stamp – A320 Airbus – the current Air NZ aircraft servicing Norfolk with flights from Auckland, 
Brisbane & Sydney.
And with the Rio Olympic Games having commenced by the time you get this newsletter – who was New Zealand’s first Olympic Gold medal winner? Well the answer is below – Malcolm Eadie Champion who was born on Norfolk Island as part of the Australasian 4 x 200 metre freestyle relay swim team at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.

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