General issues: Postal area Cook Islands/New Zealand territory 1903-1932, Postal area Cook Islands/New Zealand associated state 1972-Present
Country name on general issues: Aitutaki
Currency: 1 Shilling (Tiringi) = 12 Pence (Pene) 1903-1932, 1 Dollar = 100 Cents 1972-Present
Population: 1 770 in 2011
Political history Aitutaki
Aitutaki is a near island located in the central-southern Pacific Ocean and one of the Cook Islands – for the exact location, please refer to the map of Modern Oceania. The indigenous population is Polynesian. The first European to visit the island was the British captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty in 1789. In the late 19th century, the chiefs of the major Cook Islands, including Aitutaki, requested British protection, which was granted in 1888. In 1900, the chiefs of the Cook Islands signed documents of cession and thus the Cook Islands became a British possession. Aitutaki, however, was an exception as its chief did not sign a document of cession. Nonetheless, Aitutaki was annexed by Great Britain the same year. The Cook Islands, including Aitutaki, were granted to New Zealand as a New Zealand territory in 1901. Having been administered by New Zealand since then, the Cook Islands gained self government as an associated state in 1965.
Economically, the islanders lived from small scale domestic farming and fishing, until, in recent years, tourism was developed to become the islands most important economic activity.
Postal history Aitutaki
The first stamps used on Aitutaki were the issues of the Cook Islands from 1892. Although part of the Cook Islands, Aitutaki had a separate stamp issuing policy between 1903 and 1932. The first stamps were issued in 1903 – these being New Zealand stamps overprinted ‘Aitutaki’ and a new face value in the native language. In 1920 and 1927, two sets were issued inscribed ‘Aitutaki’. These sets are of the same design as concurrent issues for the Cook Islands as a whole, Penrhyn – also one of the Cook Islands with a separate postal administration – and Niue – a nearby atoll administered separately by New Zealand. Between 1932 and 1972 ,the stamps of the Cook Islands were used on Aitutaki.
Aitutaki resumed a separate stamp issuing policy in 1972. The issues were aimed at the thematic collectors market. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, particularly, significant numbers of stamps were issued – since the late 1990’s, stamp production has been limited. The stamps of the Cook Islands remain valid on Aitutaki, while the issues of Aitutaki are valid only on the island itself.