Stanley Gibbons: 4317-4320,
Yvert et Tellier: 3724-3727,
||Jo Bailey, Wellington, New Zealand
|Stamps in set
$1.70 - Lucy Moore (1906-1987) botanist and ecologist
$3.00 - Joan Wiffen (1922-2009) palaeontologist
$3.80 - Beatrice Hill Tinsley (1941-1981) astrophysicist
$4.30 - Mākereti Papakura (1873-1930) (Tūhourangi), leader, guide, ethnographer
|Size (width x height)
||stamps: 28mm x 35.16mm
Mini-Sheet: 128mm x 90mm
||Mini-Sheet with 4 stamps,
Sheets of 20
||FDC x2, M/s x1, SH x4, PP x1
||Arconvert securpost premium gummed 110gsm
||13.50 x 13.75
||Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
On November 2nd
2022, the Post Authority of New Zealand issued the stamps set "Women in Science".
The set contain four stamps, printed in individual Sheets of 20 and all together in a Mini-Sheet of 4.
According to the official press release, Mākereti Papakura, Lucy Moore, Joan Wiffen
and Beatrice Hill Tinsley
are four remarkable New Zealand women who achieved in the scientific fields of ethnography, botany,
and cosmology in the 20th
Their contributions opened our eyes to our past, the natural world, our cultural traditions and legacies,
and the universe.
|The red stamp ($1.70) depicts Lucy Moore
(1906-1987) with images of
Pterocladia lucida, one of the seaweeds she observed and described.
In her long career she was responsible for the taxonomy of a variety of native flora.
||The violet stamp ($3.80) depicts Beatrice Hill Tinsley
In her short but remarkable career Beatrice Hill Tinsley proved that the universe was infinite
and would expand forever, and that galaxies evolved and interacted.
This picture shows Hill Tinsley in her office at Yale University in 1975.
||The yellow stamp ($4.30) depicts Mākereti Papakura
(1873-1930) who was an anthropologist whose posthumously published work, The Old-Time Māori (1938),
is now widely acknowledged as the first published scholarly work of ethnography written by a
stamp ($3.0) depicts Joan Wiffen
a self-taught palaeontologist
In 1974 Wiffen and her team discovered the first dinosaur fossils in New Zealand in the Mangahouanga Valley
in Northern Hawkes Bay.
She knew the bone was unusual, and of a land-dwelling creature, but it was several years before
it was identified as belonging to a theropod dinosaur.
The first New Zealand's
dinosaur bone found by Joan Wiffen and her team.
Image credit: mujeresconciencia.com
Hawkes Bay on definitive stamp of New Zealand 2016,
MiNr.: , Scott: 3026
It was a remarkable discovery, as most people believed that New Zealand had never had dinosaurs
as the country had been isolated from other lands for so long that it did not seem likely.
Some scientists questioned these conclusions.
In 1967, Charles Fleming, leading paleontologist of the Geological Survey
in Wellington, New Zealand, claimed there was good vegetation in New Zealand before the breakup
of Gondwana, sufficient to support herbivorous dinosaurs.
He suggested that the lack of dinosaur's fossil record may simply be because
no fossils had yet been found.
In her book, "Valley of the Dragons - the story of New Zealand's Dinosaur Woman", Wiffen describe
the discovery (ISBN: 1-86941-145-5, pages 69-70):
The first real excitement came unexpectedly in 1974, when Bill
Bill — a fellow enthusiast we had met on a local
beach looking for fossils, and now a confirmed collector himself —
decided to join us by sharing in the cost of the building Programme
in exchange for a room of his own in the establishment.
brought me a piece of rock and asked me to try my recently acquired
skill of acid extraction.
In an attempt to reduce the size of the rock, he broke it in two, revealing a very large fish vertebra
in addition to another fossil he thought was an ammonite.
While preparing it, I saw a small hollow brown bone, broken in two, exposed on the
I carefully coated these fragments with the protective resin, and placed them in the prepared acid bath.
Slowly, after repeated washing, cleaning and recoating, the fossils emerged.
My interest was centred on the small hollow bone, because it was unusual, different from all the other
material in the rock.
We had a perfect toe bone.
Judging by the shape of the two articular ends, this was certainly
not a toe bone from a marine reptile, but from a land-walking animal.
Her guess was confirmed by Dr. Dave Russell Russell, from the Museum of Natural History in Ottawa,
Canada, who occasionally visited New Zealand in 1974.
By looking at the fossil, he recognized it as a theropod toe bone.
The Wiffen family and interested friends spent their weekends and holidays at Mangahouanga Stream,
and later built a hut as a base there.
They have found at the Mangahouanga site fossil bones of at least three kinds of
carnivorous dinosaur, three kinds of herbivorous dinosaur, and one kind of flying reptile.
That is quite apart from some fine examples of marine reptile fossils and some rare and unique
examples of other marine species.
These discoveries show dinosaurs lived in New Zealand after it split away from Gondwana in the
As collecting continued, the Wiffen's eventually extracted almost complete plesiosaur and mosasaur skulls,
and marine reptiles remained Joan’s main focus for the rest of her career.
The skull of the Mosasaur Prognathodon overtoni
is shown on the background of the stamp.
It is a reproduction of a plate from "New mosasaurs (Reptilia; Family Mosasauridae) from the
Upper Cretaceous of North Island, New Zealand" an article written by Joan Wiffen in 1990.
In 1974 Wiffen found the skull of another mosasaur.
In 1980 Wiffen published her first scientific paper describing a new mosasaur that she
named Moanasaurus mangahouagae
which is depicted on stamp of New Zealand in 2010.
From the 1980s onwards she was increasingly recognised as the expert on New Zealand’s Cretaceous reptiles.
Paleontologist Joan Wiffen stamp of New Zealand 2022,
MiNr.: , Scott:
Moanasaurus on stamp of New Zealand 2010
MiNr.: 2673, Scott:
Joan Wiffen (née Pedersen) was born in 1922 and was brought up in Havelock North and
the King Country.
Her father believe that higher education was wasted on girls, so Joan's educational opportunities
were limited to a short secondary school education.
At the age of 16, Wiffen joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during World War II where she served
as a clerk for six years.
She was trained as a radar plotter, then posted to Northern Group Headquarters in Auckland.
She later worked as a medical clerk at Ardmore, Blenheim and Wigram.
In 1953 she married Pont Wiffen, and they made a life together on a small farm in Hawke’s Bay,
where they restored the derelict buildings, made a garden, raised two children and assorted farm animals,
ran a couple of greenhouses and an asparagus patch, while Pont also worked in town.
Joan’s interest in science was kindled through the natural history books she obtained to share with her
In the late 1960s Pont and Joan developed an interest in collecting and polishing stones after Pont
attended a geology night class.
Pont and Joan Wiffen travelled widely in both New Zealand
collecting both minerals and
small fossils of sea animals with their children.
Both joined the local rock and mineral club, and in 1969 they visited Queensland with a group interested
in Australian minerals and gemstones.
Joan purchased a small trilobite fossil for 50 cents.
She had been fascinated by fossilised shells on the Hawke’s Bay hillsides of her childhood, and she now
realised that she was more interested in fossils than polished stones.
Joan soon convinced Pont to focus on fossils instead of gemstones.
The couple were very interested in fossils, and Pont ended up taking classes on fossils.
One day when Pont was home sick, Joan went to the class in his place and ever since then she was in
awe of dinosaurs and fossils.
All the specimens Joan illustrated and described were deposited in National Palaeontological
Collections at Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS).
The marine invertebrates, mainly shells, were passed on to the
New Zealand Geological Survey and other experts.
Joan Wiffen was a remarkable model for women in science – tenacious, courageous, and adaptable.
Joan’s work on fossil reptiles was recognised by a special award from the Geological Society of
New Zealand in 1986; by an honorary doctorate from Massey University in 1994; by the award of a
Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1995 New Year’s honours;
and by the Morris Skinner award from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in 2004
for her contributions to scientific knowledge.
In 2017, Wiffen was selected as one of the Royal Society Te Apārangi's "150 women in 150 words",
celebrating the contributions of women to knowledge in New Zealand.
||Sheets of 20
- Technical details:
- Joan Wiffen:
Museum of New Zealand,
Cape Coast, Arts and Heritage Trust,
mujeresconciencia (in Spanish),
Science Learning Hub.
- The Mosasaur: "J. Wiffen (1990) New mosasaurs (Reptilia; Family Mosasauridae) from the Upper Cretaceous
of North Island, New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 33:1, 67-85, DOI: 10.1080/00288306.1990.10427574"
"Valley of the Dragons - the story of New Zealand's Dinosaur Woman", by Joan Wiffen, ISBN: 1-86941-145-5,
printed in 1991 by "A Bookmakers Book" in Auckland.
- Charles Flemming:
TEARA (The Encyclopedia of New Zealand)
National Library Wellington.
Many thanks to
Dr. Peter Voice
from Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Western Michigan University,
for the draft page review and his very valuable comments.