Unique heitiki on New Zealand's most valuable coin offer

9 February 2010

New Zealand Post is releasing the most valuable New Zealand legal tender gold coin offer, featuring a unique heitiki carved by internationally renowned Maori artist, Raponi. The one ounce pure gold coin will be issued at $2,650, and only 500 will be available worldwide.

Raponi Wilson (Ngati Rangitihi and Tuhourangi), a self-taught carver based in Te Puke, has carved more than 1,000 heitiki since the late 1960s. He specialises in Maori weapons and personal adornments made from New Zealand pounamu (greenstone) and paraoa (whalebone), concentrating mainly on the various forms of heitiki. Raponi's work also featured in a New Zealand Post 2009 commemorative stamp issue, showcasing heitiki.

The rare heitiki coins are housed in unique waka huia (treasure box), specially designed by Warren McGrath, Tohunga Whakairo (master carver) to the Maori King.

"Traditionally, heitiki are regarded as one of the iconic forms of Maori art, now embraced by New Zealanders as a whole. The decision to take this icon to the world required a unique and creative approach, and the inclusion of a purpose-designed waka huia, fashioned from 45,000 year old swamp kauri, is particularly fitting," said James Te Puni, Sales and Marketing Director for New Zealand Post's coins business.

"It is an honour to work with such talented Maori artists, and be able to present this genuine New Zealand taonga on our precious metal coins in an exquisitely designed box," Mr Te Puni said.

Chief Executive of Toi Maori Aotearoa - Maori Arts New Zealand, Garry Nicholas, congratulated New Zealand Post on the coin issue, saying it helps take contemporary Maori art and artists to the world.

"It's wonderful that Raponi's art is featured on this special coin. He is one of New Zealand's foremost carvers of pounamu, especially in the heitiki form, and his work is a fine example of the world class artistry of modern Maori pounamu artists," Mr Nicholas said.

In addition to the $10 denomination gold proof coins, New Zealand Post will strike a maximum of 4,000 pure silver proof versions each housed in a kauri display box. The $1 denomination coins feature a green heitiki and will be issued at $129.00 each.

Both coins feature the heitiki and huia feathers on the reverse and a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley, of England, on the obverse.

The 2010 Maori Art - Heitiki coins are available through selected New Zealand PostShops, at REAL Aotearoa stores in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, online at www.nzpost.co.nz/coins, or by phoning 0800 782 677.

Note: New Zealand Post is authorised by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand as the only official issuer of legal tender New Zealand commemorative coins.