The British and Irish Lions rugby Tour was first dreamt up by a couple of English cricketers by the names of Alfred Shaw and Arthur Shrewsbury. The first Tour had the team playing 19 games of Aussie rules football, but the concept soon developed and the first officially sanctioned Tour to the Southern Hemisphere was organised in 1891. It wasn’t until 1899 that a Lions team was made up of players representing the four home nations of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland – a tradition that continues today.
The stamps are presented on a sheet that follows The British & Irish Lions as they tour the country. Each stamp shows a region of New Zealand where the Lions will face off against a New Zealand team, with their fans supporting them at every game. The colours of each region have been incorporated into the stamps, as has detailing representing each location. For example, Dunedin has a tartan, which is representative of its highland ancestry, Auckland’s Sky Tower rises above hibiscus flowers and Rotorua’s famous hot pools are represented by curling grey koru.
The green map of New Zealand uses intricate detailing to depict New Zealand’s rugby history and culture, such as a rugby ball representing the New Zealand Rugby Museum in Palmerston North and a rugby player in the Nelson region representing the first rugby game in New Zealand, which took place at the Botanics in 1870.
To the left of the map, a stylised player from the New Zealand and The British & Irish Lions teams are depicted coming together in a hongi. The hongi is a sacred Māori physical embrace where two people become one by pressing noses and foreheads together.
Date of Issue:3rd May 2017