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South Waikato News - - NEWS -

What have Richie McCaw, Mark Todd, Nor­man Read, Rus­sell Coutts, New Zealand row­ers and 1982 World Cup foot­ball team got in com­mon?

They have all been hon­oured on postage stamps. But you will have to travel the world to find them in your al­bum be­cause they all ap­pear on stamps of for­eign coun­tries.

In­deed, in 1957 Read be­came the first Kiwi sports­man hon­oured on any stamp any­where – by the Do­mini­can Repub­lic.

It was not un­til 1973 that New Zealand both­ered to mark the suc­cess of a Kiwi sports team, by is­su­ing an eight-cent stylised de­sign com­mem­o­rat­ing the gold medal won by the men’s eights at the Mu­nich Olympics the pre­vi­ous year.

Born in Portsmouth, Eng­land, Read came to New Zealand in his 20s. He won New Zealand ti­tles for the 20-kilo­me­tre and 50-km walk­ing races in 1956, fol­lowed by the Aus­tralian 50km ti­tle.

Later that year he won gold in the 50km event for New Zealand at the Mel­bourne Olympics. Of the 21 starters in that event only 15 fin­ished.

Read, who died in 1994, was voted New Zealand’s Sports­man of the Year in 1956.

On the down­side, his ap­pear­ance on a stamp of the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, along with about 20 other world ath­letes, be­tween 1957 and 1960, came against the bru­tal back­drop of that coun­try’s dic­ta­tor try­ing to por­tray his coun­try as a global player for the ‘‘free world’’.

United States-backed Rafael Tru­jillo, self-styled bene­fac­tor of the na­tion, headed one of the worst dic­ta­tor­ships in Latin Amer­i­can his­tory from 1930 till his as­sas­si­na­tion in 1961.

Any hon­our from the regime had more to do with Tru­jillo’s pro­mo­tion of his pro­file than a gen­uine in­ter­est in sport.

Dur­ing the Tru­jillo Era as it be­came known, an es­ti­mated 50,000 peo­ple were killed, the name of the cap­i­tal was changed from Santo Domingo to Ci­u­dad Tru­jillo, the prov­ince of San Cris­to­bal was changed to "Tru­jillo", and the na­tion’s high­est peak, Pico Duarte, was re­named Pico Tru­jillo.

Churches were re­quired to pro­mote the slo­gan ‘‘Dios en cielo, Tru­jillo en tierra" (God in Heaven, Tru­jillo on Earth).

One of Tru­jillo’s last and most pub­li­cised crimes was the mur­der in 1960 of po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dents, the Mira­bal sis­ters Pa­tria, Maria Teresa and Min­erva.


New Zealand’s row­ers were next to be hon­oured, again by an op­pres­sive regime but one nowhere near as bad as Tru­jillo’s.

In 1976 Nicaragua, then ruled by the So­moza dy­nasty, marked the Mon­treal Olympics by fea­tur­ing two Kiwi row­ing teams as part of a large set of stamps and sou­venir sheets hon­our­ing row­ers from pre­vi­ous Olympics.

The New Zealand coxed fours who won gold at the 1968 Olympics were Ross Collinge, War­ren Cole, Dick Joyce, Dud­ley Storey; and Si­mon Dickie (cox).

In Mu­nich in 1972 the eights who won gold were Trevor Coker, Athol Earl, John Hunter, Tony Hurt, Dick Joyce, Gary Robert­son, Wybo Veld­man, Lind­say Wil­son; and Si­mon Dickie (cox).


One of the odd­est stamp hon­ours must be that for Sir Rus­sell Coutts for win­ning a gold medal in Finn Class yacht­ing in the 1984 Olympic Games. His re­ward was to ap­pear on one of four stamps and a sou­venir sheet is­sued by Mau­ri­ta­nia to com­mem­o­rate win­ners of yacht­ing events at the Los An­ge­les games.

Al­though New Zealand has hon­oured its yachts­men on stamps in more re­cent years, the west African na­tion can claim to be the first to mark a Kiwi yachtie’s achieve­ment.


All Blacks cap­tain Richie McCaw re­cently ap­peared on a stamp of Mozam­bique. He fea­tured on a spe­cial sheet fea­tur­ing var­i­ous rugby stars, which looked back on the rugby world cup.

Anne Newman, com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager with the Can­ter­bury Rugby Union, quoted Richie as say­ing only that he was ‘‘un­aware of the stamp’’ un­til Mid­week asked for his com­ments.

Ma’a Nonu fea­tured in the cen­tre of the dec­o­ra­tive sheet­let fea­tur­ing McCaw and other world rugby stars but not on a stamp.

Rugby is a mi­nor but grow­ing sport in Mozam­bique (ruled by Por­tu­gal un­til 1975) which bor­ders rugby pow­er­house South Africa.


New Zealand foot­ball made an ap­pear­ance on stamps in 1982 when Belize, the for­mer colony of Bri­tish Hon­duras in Cen­tral Amer­ica, fea­tured match pho­tos on two stamps mark­ing Scot­land’s 5-2 win over the All Whites.

Both stamps show goalmouth ac­tion. Other stamps in the set fea­tured gen­uine con­tenders for the World Cup, which was held in Spain.


In 1984, Mark Todd be­came the first Kiwi to win an eques­trian medal at the Olympic Games when he won the in­di­vid­ual three­day event cham­pi­onship in Los An­ge­les.

Todd’s only ma­jor win pre­vi­ously had been the 1980 Bad­minton Horse Tri­als.

He is the only New Zealan­der to ap­pear on a stamp of the Guinea Repub­lic, which is­sued six stamps hon­our­ing 1984 Olympic win­ners.

Pho­tos: SUP­PLIED

On the ball: Richie McCaw, top left, joins Matt Giteau, Ser­gio Parisse, Bryan Ha­bana, Vic­tor Mat­field and Juan Smith on a sheet­let of Mozam­bique stamps pro­mot­ing rugby. Ma’a Nonu ap­pears on the dec­o­ra­tive bor­der. Shane Wil­liams ap­peared on a sep­a­rate small sou­venir sheet.

Top four: The New Zealand coxed fours who won gold at the 1968 Olympics on a stamp of Nicaragua.

Un­usual: Mau­ri­ta­nia is­sued four stamps fea­tur­ing yacht­ing win­ners at the 1984 Olympics in­clud­ing Rus­sell Coutts.

World Cup: Scot­land scores against NZ.

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