Niue – First Issue

April 18, 2023

The Coral island of Niue situated to the north-east of New Zealand, was discovered by Cook in 1774; and due to the hostility of the natives, he named it Savage Island – Niue being the native name.

A fairly small island of just 100 square miles, with its principal industries of Copra export, and the basket and hat weaving trade. Niue was annexed as a Protectorate by Great Britain in 1900, and transferred to New Zealand as a dependency on June 11th 1901, and later as part of the Cook Islands Administration.

At the request of the Resident Agent, Mr S. Percy Smith, the Island Postmaster was supplied with £5 worth (1200 stamps) of current New Zealand 1d ‘Universal’ stamps, and instructions that he should place the word ‘NIUE’ across the stamp in dark green. A rubber hand stamp was made locally for the purpose, together with suitable ink.

The overprinting of the sheets was done in vertical rows, and the green ink was mixed into a pad that already contained old violet ink, thus resulting in the first vertical row and part of the second having a violet tint to the overprint.

When this first issue was put on sale on January 4th 1902, there were no postal markings available, and for the first week of use stamps were cancelled in manuscript, and then by circular date stamps usually in violet.

Once this issue had become exhausted, new overprints on New Zealand stamps were produced professionally by the Government Printer, in February, April and June 1902 – the first shipment arriving on the island on April 4th.

The scarce first issue SG 1 has always been keenly sort after by collectors.

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