New Zealand celebrates the Taniwha, a Maori water being, with new proof coins.
In the scurry to fill out the numismatic world with the gods of Greece and Scandinavia, some interesting areas the of old mythologies have been overlooked. Case in point are the Maori legends of New Zealand, featured only by that countries national issuer of commemorative coins, the New Zealand Post. There have been some really superb designs issued over the last few years, the beautiful Maori Koru coin being a particular favourite here, and the coins seem to be popular when released.
As an art style, the Maori design seems to be a natural fit for a coin and we think that is again the case here. Depicting a creature called the Taniwha (pronounced Tanifa), these water beings live in tumultuous waters in the sea, deep river pools and caves, especially where currents or waves are fierce. Depending on the tradition, they may be thought of as protective guardians (Kaitiaki), or as predatory creatures capable of kidnapping women or even killing.
It’s a great looking coin, each of the three versions carrying identical artwork. Depicting a stylised Taniwha snaking its way out of a stormy sea, it’s completely free of inscriptions, with the name and denomination kept in a border next to the rim. It has definite echoes of Japanese art as well and we can see the design travelling well, not just a coin for Kiwi’s. Packaging is another NZ Post speciality, a custom box carved from a native wood really highlights the gold coins well, although the themed standard box for the silver looks decent enough. The obverse depicts the usual Queens effigy.
The NZ Post have them up for sale already and there’s no warning of delay, so we’ll have to assume they’re shipping any day now. The five-ounce gold version has already sold out of its complete fifty-coin mintage. At $13k NZD a pop, that’s a phenomenal $650,000 NZD in turnover in a few days just on that single variant!!! The one-ounce gold and silver versions are still available, although sadly prices are quite high on both with the gold at $3,450 NZD (£1900 / €2300 / $2400 USD) and the silver at $150 NZD (£84 / €100 / $105 USD).