Aitutaki - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Aitutaki   is part of the Cook Islands, which in turn is a dependency of New Zealand. The island is categorized as “almost atoll” – a Darwinian term describing a fringing coral reef enclosing an island formed by volcanic activity in the tropical sea whereby a slow process of reef growth upwards and subsiding of the island results in a lagoon, forming a topography that is almost an atoll. Tourism and fishing are the mainstays of Aitutaki.

Travel Resources:

The tourist friendly months are technically June through September but the shoulder months of May and October are popular with those seeking travel deals. The mango season of November is another pleasing time to visit. It is known for its turquoise central lagoon and beaches.


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Aitutaki were a set of six which were overprints of the New Zealand issues of 1898. The designs were Mount Cook, Huia Birds, Kiwi, and Hawk-billed parrots and the overprints “AITUTAKI” and the denomination were either in Red or Blue. The first two stamps catalog for under $10 but those used commercially on cover catalog at more than $100. The most valuable stamps in the set are the varieties of Scott #6. The original design, the “1sh scarlet”, catalog in the $50 range for MNH, $100 range for used, and $350 for used on cover. A variety of the same design in orange brown with no period after the overprint “Tiringi” catalog for over $1000. A couple of other overprints and certain varieties were the only stamps issued till 1920. Except for certain varieties, the catalog value of most of these stamps is affordable at under $10. Though the island is minuscule with the spread at 6.97 square miles, they issue their own stamps. The need for their own postal service is a case of economics over social need. For the mere 2000-odd inhabitants, issuing stamps to satisfy the large philatelic community is a very lucrative proposition – there are 50,000 to 100,000 philatelists worldwide for every Aitutakian and every successful sale of a single stamp at penny apiece to each of those philatelists, translates to between $500 and $1000 per person.


In 1920 the first original designs appeared with the release of a set of six stamps (Scott #28 to #33). They depict the landing of Captain Cook, a portrait of James Cook, and certain local scenes. The set catalogs for around $40 for MNH and about $100 for used. These stamps along with a design of the Rarotongan Chief, Te Po in a blue and black design and certain varieties were the only stamps issued till 1931. From 1932 to 1972 Aitutaki used stamps of Cook Islands instead of issuing their own.

The first stamps since the hiatus were Aitutaki overprints on a duo of Cook Islands designs of 1967-69. The set consisting of ten denominations of the Hibiscus design and two higher denominations of QE II design catalog for around $30 MNH and $50 used. A few other overprints were also used in 1972. The first original designs appeared in 1973 with Princess Anne and Hibiscus design. The stamp catalogs well under $1. In 1974, a set of fourteen stamps depicting pacific seashells were issued. The lower denominations catalog in the $1 to $5 range but the two higher denominations ($2 and $5) with a QE head design on the left side catalog around $5 and $30 respectively for MNH and $5 and $15 Used. Well over 500 different designs in varied global themes were issued since 1972. Many of the higher denominations catalog in the $5 range but whether they are collectible is another story.

Collectible Memorabilia:

An authentic Aitutaki takeaway would be something made of Cook Islands black pearl shells or better yet the pearl itself.


Last Updated: 12/2015.

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