Saturday 17 December 2011

Pacific Events:- Fiji, Tokelau and Nauru

2011 has seen more locally printed surcharges being produced by Fiji, now on the 31c value from the 1995 definitive series. The stamp features a mangrove heron and so far 6 new values have been produced on this particular stamp:- 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c, 5c (all illustrated) and 20c. These surcharges have been produced since 2006 to make up for a chronic shortage of low value stamps although why the Fiji Post office just can not produce some basic new low value definitives is beyond me (yes, I understand that it's cost effective to use up surplus old issues but this process has been going on for 5 years now).

Meanwhile New Zealand Post has taken over the production and distribution of the stamps of the tiny island of Tokelau, one of the territories of New Zealand, and will fulfill the role on a 5-year contract. This is pleasing news as New Zealand Post has taken on this role for other territories such as Niue and has maintained an excellently conservative programme of well-designed stamps for their client territories, certainly their displacement of a New York-based agency in Niue was a great relief given the awful stamps of no relevance at all to Niue that were produced with Niue's name on them during their aegis. Sadly the first set that New Zealand Post has produced for Tokelau is remarkably dull and uninteresting and apart from the inscription "Manuia te Kilihimahi", apparently Tokelauan for "Merry Christmas", the monochrome stamps feature nothing else with any relevance to Tokelau, depicting as they do Christmas tree decorations which could have been featured on the stamp of any country which celebrates Christmas if it were unimaginative enough to do so. Pity. I hope that designs will improve in 2012.

Finally, a rather odd issue from Nauru which has a fairly conservative new issue programme which sounds good but sadly rarely includes any stamps with subjects which have direct relevance to Nauru. The Nauru Post Office has had only 2 issues produced for it so far during 2011 - one miniature sheet inevitably commemorating the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and a second issue, released on 12 April but which has only just come to light, commemorating the Russian space programme, which seems like a subject of rather distant relevance to a tiny Pacific island, not previously known for either having a close relationship with Russia or being involved in space exploration. The stamps were designed by Denise Durkin and printed in lithography by Souther Colour Print of New Zealand and this designer and printer are often associated with items produced by New Zealand Post for their clients and I wonder if New Zealand Post Office will be moving in on Nauru as well as Tokelau and displacing CASCO which seems to mainly produce stamps for its client territories which depict aspects of British history and warfare in general even when one is strained to understand what relevance the theme has to the client territories. The oddity of the Nauru issue should not surprise given that other sets equally hopelessly irrelevant to the island have been produced by CASCO for Nauru in recent years including stamps depicting dinosaurs and commemorating the bicentenary of Battle of Trafalgar!

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