NZ Post has last stamp

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Timaru philatelist Ray Bennett with some of his extensive collection of health stamps.

Health stamps have been relegated to history after New Zealand Post announced it will no longer produce the popular collectors’ items.

The decision means an 87-year tradition has come to an end. The final issue was released in September last year and those stamps remain on sale only until September 6 this year.

In 1929, New Zealand Post worked with Children’s Health Camps – now Stand Children’s Services – to create an annual stamp issue to help New Zealand’s most at-risk children.

Each issue had a different theme, and a donation from the sale of each stamp provided critical funding for the children’s health camps across New Zealand.

A New Zealand Post spokesman said declining mail volumes had been reflected in the number of health stamps sold.

It was no longer financially viable for NZ Post and Stand to administer the stamp issue because the surcharge collected had dropped below the break-even point for both organisations to administer.

Timaru Philatelic Society president Colin McRobie said it was a shame to see health stamps were being discontinued.

“It’s quite an end of an era for philatelists in New Zealand. Most will have had health stamps in their collection. We used to go to the Post Office and get a stamp, put it on a cover and get it stamped on the first day of issue.”

Mr McRobie said the stamps had done a lot of good over the years for health camps, and some of the early ones had become quite valuable.

Timaru philatelist Ray Bennett has been collecting stamps since he was 5 years old, and has the entire collection of health stamps, including the highly sought-after “blue boy” and “red boy”, which were issued in 1931.