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 Cook Islands

Cook Islands First Stamp
Cook Islands Firs Stamp

Postal services were set up on the major islands by New Zealand in 1891 – even though, at the time, the Cook Islands were a British protectorate. The first stamps were issued in 1892 – stamps of a basic design, inscribed ‘Cook Islands Federation’. Further issues followed in 1893 showing the portrait of Queen Makea Takau – the most prominent of the chiefs in the Cook Islands federation. In 1898, a set was issued featuring the wrybill – a bird endemic to the area. Stamps of these designs continued to be issued until 1919. The issues from this period were printed in New Zealand and – interesting to note – since 1893 have New Zealand watermarks. Between 1919 and 1932 the stamps for the Cook Islands were designated Rarotonga. New Zealand stamps, overprinted ‘Rarotonga’, were issued in 1919, followed by definitives, inscribed ‘Rarotonga’, in 1920. Sets issued in 1920 and 1927 are of the same design as concurrent issues from Aitutaki, Penrhyn and Niue. Since 1932, New Zealand stamps were again inscribed or overprinted ‘Cook Islands’. Having become an associated state in 1965, the Cook Islands have employed a number of successive agencies issuing significant numbers of stamps almost exclusively aimed at the thematic collectors market. Since the late 1990’s, stamp production has been limited. [source: StampWorldHistory]