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New Zealand honors cultural heroes

Over the past two years, New Zealand has issued a series of gold and silver coins to celebrate the great Māori cultural hero Māui-tikitiki. In February, two gold $10s and silver $1s were released. These tell the story of how Māui brought fire to the world.

The designs by David Hakaraia depict both Māui and Mahuika, the Māori fire deity. It is Mahuika’s fingernails that provide the source of her fire.

Fire goddess Mahuika (obverses) is poised to throw a fiery curve ball at recalcitrant grandson Māui (reverses) of gold $10s and partially-gilded silver proof $1s, the latest in a New Zealand series telling the legends of the cultural hero Maui-tikitiki. (Images courtesy of New Zealand Post.)

Māui was Mahuika’s grandson. When all the fires in his village were extinguished, he sought out Mahuika to request a fingernail to relight the fires. She gave him one, which he promptly extinguished. She provided another and yet another, which he successively extinguished.

Naturally Mahuika got rather annoyed, as grandmothers can. She set a major fire to drive Māui away. It ignited both land and sea. Māui prayed to his ancestors, the god of weather and the goddess of thunder, who responded by drenching the fire storm.

Mahuika now threw her last nail at Māui. He dodged, and it flew into trees. It was sticks of these trees that Māui brought back to his village and showed his people how rubbing them together made fire.

As with the earlier issues in the series, the two $10s consist of 30 mm, 1/2 oz .9999 fine gold proofs and the $1s of 40 mm, 1 oz .999 fine silver proofs struck by BH Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt GmbH. The coins are sold as gold and silver sets, with mintages of 150 and 500, respectively.

The gold sets were rapid-fire sellouts at the New Zealand Post online shop: https://coins.nzpost.co.nz/. The gilded silver proofs were still available at the time writing.

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