NEW ZEALAND — 2020 Year of the Rat
According to the New Zealand Post website, people born in the lunar calendar’s Year of the Rat are “clever and adapt quickly to new environments . . . Optimism and energy are key traits . . . [though] they prefer to live quiet and peaceful lives.” The $1.30 stamp features calligraphy, which along with couplet writing plays an important part in modern New Year celebrations. For thousands of years the folk art of paper-cutting has been a part of Chinese culture and is depicted on the $2.60 stamp with a decorative rat. The $3.30 value features the ship rat, New Zealand’s most common rat, in celebration of the spirit of the Rat. Auckland’s Sky Tower is shown on the $4.00 stamp; the bright red light on the Sky Tower represents the Chinese New Year and Auckland’s diverse multicultural community. Issued on December 4, 2019, the four stamps are also available in a miniature sheet and presentation pack from www.nzpost.co.nz.
PITCAIRN ISLANDS — Dark Sky Sanctuary
With stunning dark skies free from all light pollution, the Pitcairn Islands has been named the only island group in the world to be a designated International Dark Sky Sanctuary. The designation was awarded by the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA), following application by the Pitcairn Tourism, Conservation and Environment teams. The sanctuary, called Mata ki te Rangi (Eyes to the Sky), encompasses all four islands in the Pitcairn Islands Group. According to Pitcairn Tourism head Heather Menzies, “As a community, from our tiny advantage point, we deeply value our unparalleled view of the universe but also benefit from the physical and psychological wellbeing that a truly dark sky affords all people.” Pitcairn Islanders also sought the economic gain attributed to astro-tourism in their application. For reference, the Aoraki McKenzie Dark Sky Reserve on South Island, New Zealand, had over one million visitors from 2017 to 2018. The IDSA formally approved Mata ki te Rangi as an official International Dark Sky Sanctuary on March 18, 2019. The souvenir sheet of four stamps features the work of astro-photographer Chris Pegman from Kerikeri, New Zealand. The souvenir sheet can be ordered from www.stamps.gov.pn.
POLAND — 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Breda
Breda, a city in southern Holland, was occupied by the German army throughout most of World War II. Between October 20 and November 4, 1944, Operation Pheasant was conducted by Allied forces to clear German troops out of North Brabant after the failure of Operation Market Garden and the allied effort to seize the port of Antwerp. After a series of successful outflanking maneuvers planned and performed by the 1st Polish Armoured Division under General Stanislaus Maczek (shown on the stamp), Breda was liberated on October 29. On Liberation Day every year thereafter, Breda is visited by a large contingent from Poland and special festivities are held to honor General Maczek and the many fallen Polish soldiers from his division who are buried in a nearby Polish military cemetery. Recent Polish stamps can be found online at www.poczta-polska.pl.
Editor's Note: New worldwide stamps are presented for information and are not necessarily shown at the correct scale. The quality of images available at the time of release varies widely and we resize to achieve the best possible reproduction.
This article was published in the March 2020 issue of The American Philatelist. Read the full issue online at stamps.org/the-american-philatelist