At the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, the Pacific Islands nation of Fiji won its first ever gold medal. It did so in seven-aside rugby football, popularly known as “Sevens.” For the nation it was a historic moment. The Fiji public went just a little bit crazy. The prime minister declared a public holiday and called off his intent to change the flag.
That was last year. This year, the Reserve Bank of Fiji has announced release of a circulating legal tender $7 bank note and 50-cent coin to commemorate the gold medal. The designs were unveiled on April 20 at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel by Prime Minister (and President of the Fiji Rugby Union and avid rugby fan) Rear Adm. (Retired) Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama.
The note is the first $7 for Fiji. Both sides feature photos of the Fijian Sevens team by New Zealander Bruce Southwick who presently lives in Fiji. It was he who suggested that the RBF give the commemorative note the unique denomination. He also donated the images but was unsure if they would be used until the evening of the launch.
The 138.5 x 67 mm note was designed and printed by Oberthur Fiduciaire who completed the contract inside eight months compared with the normal 12-18 months.
It is the first Fiji issue to have one side oriented horizontally and the other vertical. Both orientations have been used to complement the images selected by the bank’s in-house Currency Technical Committee.
The primary note color is blue, synonymous with the Fiji flag. On the face is Olympic captain and Team Fiji’s flag bearer Osea Kolinisau in full flight with the Fiji flag in the background. The team coach, Ben Ryan, is shown alongside in a pensive mood sitting on sand dunes at Sigatoka National Park.
The face of the note also bears the signature of governor of the RBF, Barry Whiteside, along with the denomination shown in blue and gold. Alongside the gold “7” is a gold patch printed with Optically Variable Ink representing the gold medal but also containing the RBF logo, the tagaga, along with the year 2016.
Both serial numbers use novel numbering and carry the prefix AU for gold. A STARsheen® 2 mm security thread bears the words “FIJI 7s GOLD OLYMPIANS.”
The note’s back features the entire Fiji Rugby Sevens team along with the prime minister and team officials.
The watermark is oval-shaped and enclosed in white rings to depict a rugby ball in motion. It features Fiji Sevens Olympian Savenaca Rawaca, a leading ball carrier. A see-through feature contains Fijian masi designs.
The gold medal around captain’s neck on the note’s face and the medals around the players’ necks on the back fluoresce green under ultra violet light as does the RBF logo.
The notes were released into circulation on Friday, April 21. Two million have been produced. At the time of writing these were not available for sale to collectors from the RBF except as individual notes mounted in folders costing FJ$25 each, excluding postage. The folders contain a message from governor of the RBF and the signatures of the Fiji Sevens’ team coach and captain. And, by the way, the RBF accepts SWIFT payments only.
It is understood that no taxpayer funding was made available for the production of the $7 note and 50-cent coin. The cost is to be borne by the RBF alone with the bank expecting to recover its expenses through sale of the folder and uncut sheets of the notes.
The Ministry of Finance has pointed out that the cost of producing each $7 note was lower than the cost of an existing $5 note, which is approximately 30 cents apiece.
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