While the world of ancient gods and monsters seems to dominate the ultra high relief, antique-finished coin genre, there have been some notable exceptions. One of our favourites to date has been the Numiartis and Magikos Coins -produced series ‘World Cultures’, first hitting the market two years ago with an intricately designed Kapala Skull coin. The renders in our first article looked impressive, but an image of the final coin showed exactly what a stunning piece of numismatic art this was. This was followed up last year by a superb Indian-themed coin featuring Ganesha, the distinctive elephant headed deity.

Now the series is back for its third annual issue and it’s one we’ve not seen on a coin before, and a subject that shows just how wide-ranging and eclectic this series is. Maori culture is not unheard of on modern commemorative coins – the NZ Post has a regular dabble with some fine pieces, but we’ve never seen the fabled ‘Haka’ depicted specifically. If anyone else is thinking of doing one, the mint has set a very high bar for entry with this one.

The heavily tattooed warrior in traditional dress, with his tongue out and taking the famous confrontational pose of this ceremonial dance, is a perfect summation of what it’s all about. For most of us, the Haka is only seen when the All Blacks rugby team do the dance at the beginning of their matches, which always seems to be a crowd-pleaser wherever they go. My partner however, is a Kiwi, and informs me that what is on this coin is absolutely spot on for atmosphere. The obverse face is equally packed with tons of cultural imagery, chief of which is the Maori Marae, a structture that forms the heart of a Maori community and is the tribal meeting ground.

While I will admit to having a bit of a bias towards all things Kiwi, this one still looks a bit special. Take a look at the real world image of the Kapala Skull coin to see how beautiful the black proof background looks with the antiqued high-relief, and you can see the potential of this one. The carnelian (a semi-precious gemstone) insert is a cool focal point. Shipping in early September, this Mint of Poland struck, 2oz fine silver coin comes in a box with a Certificate of Authenticity, and has a mintage of 500 pieces. Top stuff.

HAKA

The haka  is a ceremonial dance or challenge in Māori culture. It is performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment. Although commonly associated with the traditional battle preparations of male warriors, haka have long been performed by both men and women, and several varieties of the haka fulfill social functions within Māori culture. Haka are performed to welcome distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals. The main Māori performing arts competition, Te Matatini, takes place every two years.

New Zealand sports teams’ practice of performing a haka before their international matches has made the haka more widely known around the world. This tradition began with the 1888–89 New Zealand Native football team tour and has been carried on by the New Zealand All Blacks rugby union team since 1905. This is considered by some Māori to be a form of cultural appropriation.

ORIGINS: According to Tīmoti Kāretu, the haka has been “erroneously defined by generations of uninformed as ‘war dances'”, whereas Māori mythology places haka as the dance “about the celebration of life”. According to its creation story, the sun god, Tama-nui-te-rā, had two wives, the Summer Maid, Hine-raumati, and the Winter Maid, Hine-takurua. Haka originated in the coming of Hine-raumati, whose presence on still, hot days was revealed in a quivering appearance in the air. This was the haka of Tāne-rore, the son of Hine-raumati and Tama-nui-te-rā.

Jackson and Hokowhitu state, “haka is the generic name for all types of dance or ceremonial performance that involve movement.” The various types of haka include whakatū waewae, tūtū ngārahu and peruperu. The tūtū ngārahu involves jumping from side to side, while in the whakatū waewae no jumping occurs. Another kind of haka performed without weapons is the ngeri, the purpose of which was to motivate a warrior psychologically. The movements are very free, and each performer is expected to be expressive of their feelings. Manawa wera haka were generally associated with funerals or other occasions involving death. Like the ngeri they were performed without weapons, and there was little or no choreographed movement.

War haka (peruperu) were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition. Various actions are employed in the course of a performance, including facial contortions such as showing the whites of the eyes (pūkana), and poking out the tongue (whetero, performed by men only), and a wide variety of vigorous body actions such as slapping the hands against the body and stomping of the feet. As well as chanted words, a variety of cries and grunts are used. Haka may be understood as a kind of symphony in which the different parts of the body represent many instruments. The hands, arms, legs, feet, voice, eyes, tongue and the body as a whole combine to express courage, annoyance, joy or other feelings relevant to the purpose of the occasion.[Wikipedia]

https://www.mdm.de/
SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION 2,000 Francs CFA
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 45.0 mm
FINISH Antique and Black Proof
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, Carnelian insert
MINTAGE 500
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes