Although the name is misleading, the New Zealand Mint is actually a privately-owned company operating in Auckland, and does not serve as the official sovereign mint of the Pacific nation. Like its Australian neighbor the Perth Mint, the New Zealand Mint excels at producing a variety of silver and gold bullion products that investors and collectors clamor for each year.
As mentioned above, the New Zealand Mint is a private company with its headquarters in the capital of Auckland. The mint excels in producing legal tender collectible coins, gold bullion products, and medallions. It was founded over 40 years ago, and today it is the only precious metal mint located in New Zealand. Central to its global status, the New Zealand Mint can boast that it was one of the world’s first mints to adopt .9999 purity as a standard in its gold bullion products.
The mint sources all of its precious metals from international locations, producing coins and medallions using a minimum fineness of .999 for silver and .9999 for gold. The quality and impressive nature of the designs on New Zealand Mint coins puts it among the elite in the world of precious metals, with several coin programs that are coveted by the global community.
Although the mint has a brand name that insinuates it holds status as a sovereign mint, the New Zealand Mint does not print any paper bank notes or circulation coinage for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the national government. All New Zealand Dollar paper notes and coins are produced overseas by either the Royal Mint of London or the Royal Canadian Mint.
Without question, the most popular coin from the New Zealand Mint is the annual New Zealand Hawksbill, or Taku, coin. The hawksbill turtle is a native sea turtle found in parts of the Indian Ocean, southern Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific. It makes its home along the shores of Fiji, but takes an annual migration to the coast of New Zealand.
A beloved creature in the region, the hawksbill was once a source of food for local island populations throughout the South Pacific. Today, the vast majority of people in the region frown on this practice in an effort to save the hawksbill from extinction. The turtles are identifiable by their pointed, narrow beaks, and the distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells. The shells are especially impressive and notable for their color patterns. Many local indigenous people refer to the hawksbill turtle as the Taku, hence the dual name often found on these coins.
The Hawksbill coin was first introduced in 2010 in both silver and gold versions. The coins are produced, by in large, in bullion versions only each year, with just a 1 oz weight available. The design on the reverse side is always that of the hawksbill turtle as it swims through the warm, shallow waters of the South Pacific.
On the reverse side of each coin there is a brilliant contrast between the matte, pearl finish of the ocean waters, and the mirror-like finish of the hawksbill’s shell. A small sliver of the coin along the left is also deeply mirrored and features the words “Turtle” on the silver version, and “Fiji Taku” on the gold version.
The obverse side of all coins in the hawksbill series features the right-profile portrait of England’s Queen Elizabeth II. Designed by Ian Rank-Broadley, this image is a fourth-generation portrait of Her Majesty created in 1998. It is accompanied by engravings of her name, the nation of issue, the year of minting, and the face value.
New Zealand Hawksbill coins have different nations of issue and face value in both the gold and silver version. One gold and silver version is often referred to as the New Zealand Hawksbill Coin. It features the engraving “Turtle” on the reverse, is produced by the New Zealand Mint for the nation of Niue, and bears a face value of $2 (Niue). The face value of the 1 oz gold coin is $200 (Niue).
Conversely, the New Zealand Fiji Taku coin is produced with the same designs, but the nation of issue is the island of Fiji. While this coin is also only available in 1 oz weights with a face value of either $2 (silver) or $200 (gold), the obverse bears the coat of arms for the nation of Fiji, along with engravings of the year of minting and the face value.
On certain occasions the New Zealand Mint will produce the hawksbill/Taku coin in a heavier weight of 5 oz, and fractional-weight proof coins for anniversaries. These coins are rarely struck though, and you are most likely to find the 1 oz weight available on a regular basis.
Starting in 2015, the New Zealand Mint introduced its own Lunar Coin series in both silver and gold bullion. Currently the coins are only available in the 2015 Year of the Goat design, with a 2016 Year of the Monkey coin in the works, as well. The reverse side of the coin features a group of three goats clashing at the top of a stylistic rocky outcrop. The design features a mirrored finish in the background, with one stretch of mountaintop finished in frosted relief.
Engravings on the reverse include the Chinese symbol for goat in the center, the weight, purity, and metal content along the left, and the phrase “2015 Year of the Goat” below. Each gold lunar series coin features .9999 purity and has a face value of $200, issued for the nation of Niue. On the obverse is Ian Rank-Broadley’s right-profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, along with engravings of her name, the nation of issue, face value, and year of issue.
The silver version of New Zealand’s Lunar Series coin features the same obverse and reverse design, and same engravings, but has a purity of .999 silver and a face value of $2 (Niue).
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