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2008 New Zealand 50c

On August 6th 2008, NZ Post issued a series The Alphabet of New Zealand.

Each sheet had 26 50c stamps, one for each of the letters of the alphabet,
from A is for Aotearoa to Z is for Zealand.

50c was the 2008 cost of 2nd class internal post, fastpost being NZ$1.

A Story Behind the 2008 New Zealand Stamp.

    This one came as a great surprise to me. I only learned of its issue, accidentally, four months after its issue date and I was in the country all of July to September. As only one of 26 stamps on the sheet, no publicity was noted.

    As usual, N was for Nuclear Free New Zealand. So its official folks. Kiwis are spineless. Our atoms dont have nuclei.

    2008 was the centennial of Rutherford's Nobel Prize. On the 14th of December 2005 I visited NZ Post Stamp Design department and made a written proposal that it would be appropriate to have a commemorative stamp for Rutherford in 2008, to mark the centennial of the first Nobel Prize awarded to a person who had been educated in New Zealand. I made follow-up enquiries every few months to check as to whether or not this would happen. They say they get about 300 requests per year. By mid-2007 they were considering a series on all New Zealand Nobel Prizewinners, probably because the second one (Alan MacDiarmid) had died that February. (There is a third who was born in New Zealand to expat parents who returned to England when he was only 6 and had no further contact with New Zealand so to me that doesn't count. He had nothing further to do with New Zealand, had no family or friends here, and never came back.)

    In November 2007 I was advised that there wouldn't be a commemorative stamp for Rutherford in 2008. One reason given was that he had appeared on two New Zealand stamp issues in the past: 1971 the centennial of his birth, which we were shamed into by the Russians (see the story in the 1c stamp), and 1999 to mark the upcoming millenium (Leading the Way) which surreally included Rutherford splitting the atom and New Zealand becoming nuclear free. The 2007 decision was handled by NZ Post's business unit. I visited them later that month but the decision had been made. (At neither time was the R is for Rutherford stamp mentioned.) So New Zealand lost its chance to mark a centennial related to both Rutherford and New Zealand. The next two big Rutherford centennials are for Manchester University and Britain. Our next ones will be the centennial of his death (2037) and the bicentennial of his birth (2071). I might have to give both a miss.


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