2012 Maori Art - Hei Matau
Featuring hei matau – a symbol of prosperity, strength and abundance – the 2012 Maori Art coin is the world’s first coin to have a piece of pounamu (New Zealand greenstone) set into the design.
The 2012 Māori Art - Hei Matau Coin is the second coin in New Zealand Post’s Māori Art coin series, and follows the hugely successful 2010 Heitiki coin issue. For countless generations, hei matau have been treasured by Māori as both a ceremonial adornment and a talisman of days of old.
Unlike matau (functional hooks used for fishing), hei matau are worn around the neck as pendants. They were traditionally carved from pounamu, whalebone and hardwoods, but modern-day hei matau may be crafted from a variety of materials. While the shape of the hook may vary, the hei matau is an indelible link to personal mana (prestige) and ancestral lineage.
The hei matau depicted on the 2012 Māori Art coin was hand-carved by renowned Rotorua Māori artist, Lewis Gardiner. The piece was especially commissioned for the 60 cent stamp in
New Zealand Post’s 2011 Matariki stamp issue, and represents an outstanding example of modern hei matau design.
Coins to treasure
This stunning coin issue includes New Zealand Post's first-ever 0.9999 gold coin, as well as a highly-collectable silver proof coin. Both coins have a round cabochon of pounamu set into the design, which is a world-first in coin design. Pounamu is a taonga (treasure) held in high esteem by Māori, and the export of pounamu from New Zealand is restricted. The coins are also the first to have the denomination written in both English and Te Reo Māori (the Māori language).