NZ’s most endangered bird makes a rare public appearance

22 February 2012

New Zealand Post and TradeMe have teamed up to support what may be our rarest native bird – by auctioning off a one-of-its-kind set of coins.

“People throw the word ‘rare’ around lightly, but a bird known as the ‘New Zealand Fairy Tern’ would meet anyone’s definition,” New Zealand Post’s stamps and coins spokesman Simon Allison says.

“Put it this way, if you placed all of the New Zealand Fairy Terns in existence on a scale at the same time – they’d weigh in at less than 3 kilograms. “Now that’s rare.”

New Zealand Post is raising awareness of the birds – which are restricted to just four breeding sites in the upper North Island – through a special coin issue released this week.

The New Zealand Fairy Tern coin is the latest in an annual series of $5 legal tender coins from New Zealand Post highlighting the plight of endangered New Zealand animals.

The $5 New Zealand Fairy Tern coin is available on its own or as the centrepiece in a complete set of NZ currency coins. Prices range from $39 for the uncirculated coin cast in coppernickel, up to $185 for a complete currency set including the $5 coin in silver.

“These coins and sets are available in strictly limited numbers and we expect an enthusiastic response from coin collectors – and bird fanciers – both here and around the world,” Simon Allison said.

A top-of-the-line currency set, featuring the silver proof coin, will be auctioned on TradeMe – with all proceeds going to the New Zealand Fairy Tern Charitable Trust.

“Those sets are individually numbered, and we’ve donated set number 43 for this auction, as that’s the official count as to how many New Zealand Fairy Terns are currently alive.

“Thanks to the great work done over recent years by the Department of Conservation and an army of volunteers there are now six to nine pairs of New Zealand Fairy Terns breeding each season, so the future for this lively little bird is starting to look bright.

“With luck, good management and support from the public we’re hoping the New Zealand Fairy Tern will maintain its hold in this beautiful land which we share,” Simon Allison said.

The TradeMe charity auction featuring these coins starts on Thursday 23 February at 8.30am.

New Zealand Fairy Tern coins and sets are available now through selected New Zealand PostShop stores, at REAL Aotearoa stores in Auckland and Wellington, online at www.nzcoins.co.nz, or by phoning 0800 NZ COINS (692 646).

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.