GREAT BARRIER ISLAND PIGEONGRAM SERVICE
1897, 14 May
INAUGURATION OF SERVICE FROM GREAT BARRIER ISLAND TO AUCKLANDIn 1897 a determined effort was made to exploit the mineral deposits of Great Barrier Island which is about 92 kms by air from Auckland, and a Mr. Smailes, one of the promoters of the mining company felt it would be a great convenience to inhabitants of the island if there were some more rapid means of communicating with the mainland than was provided by the weekly steamer service which was then in operation. He discussed the matter with Mr. Parkin, a well-known pigeon fancier of Auckland and eventually Mr. Parkin established a pigeon service between Great Barrier Island and Auckland.
1898, 19 November
FIRST MESSAGES IN THE WORLD TO BE FRANKED WITH DISTINCTIVE ADHESIVE AIR STAMPSIn September, 1898, Mr. H. Bolitho, who was a friend of Mr. Howie, became interested in the service and he suggested that a charge of a 1/- only be made for messages and that a special stamp be issued to simplify collection of the charge and popularise the service. Mr. Bolitho was authorised to arrange production of the stamps that were printed by the Observer Printing Works of Auckland. The first message to be franked with the special stamp, which was rectangular in format, was flown on November 19, 1898 from Okupu to Auckland.
Great Barrier Island
1899, 16 July
INAUGURATION OF SERVICE FROM GREAT BARRIER ISLAND TO AUCKLAND AND VICE VERSAFollowing on the successful operation of the Original Great Barrier Pigeongram Service, a number of Auckland businessmen formed a rival company, the Great Barrier Pigeongram Agency and arrangements were made with a Mr. W.W. Fricker of Auckland to provide the birds necessary for the service. Mr. Fricker's loft was situated at Picton Street, Auckland, and the depot on the island was originally located at Okupu, but was later transferred to Whangaparapara.
1899, 24 August
MAROTIRI PIGEONGRAM SERVICE: FIRST MESSAGES BEARING "MAROTIRI" STAMPSIn 1899 when a syndicate commenced mining operations on the principal island of the Hen & Chicken group, the "Original Great Barrier Island Service" established an agency on the island and accepted messages for Auckland.
Hen & Chickens Islands
1900, 29 January
ORIGINAL GREAT BARRIER PIGEONGRAM SERVICE AND GREAT PIGEONGRAM AGENCY: SPECIAL FLIGHTS FROM SS MARAROA OFF GREAT BARRIER ISLAND TO AUCKLANDOn January 29, 1900, an excursion trip was made to Great Barrier Island and messages were sent by pigeon from the ship to Auckland. The two companies provided pigeons for the conveyance of messages whilst the "Agency" issued a special flimsy inscribed "GREAT BARRIER PIGEONGRAM AGENCY FORM" at the top, while at the bottom there was printed the inscription "New Zealand Patriotic Fund. Excursion to Great Barrier Island, SS Mararoa, Jan.19th, 1900."
1903, 19 December
GREAT BARRIER PIGEONGRAM AGENCY: SPECIAL VETERANS HOME FLIGHTSThe Agency produced a special flimsy with the inscription SPECIAL SERVICE FROM GOVERNMENT HOUSE GROUNDS IN AID OF VETERANS HOME FUNDS printed beneath the heading.
Coppermine Island - principal island of the Hen & Chickens Group