2013 Kiwi Treasures
New Zealand Post is excited to release the second coin in the 'Kiwi Treasures' series that combines our national bird with iconic treasures of nature. The 2013 issue features the mighty Tane Mahuta - New Zealand's largest living kauri tree.
Tane Mahuta means ‘Lord of the Forest’, and in Māori cosmology Tane is the child of Ranginui, the Sky Father and Papa-tu-a-nuku, the Earth Mother. According to Māori legend, Ranginui and Papa were joined in an embrace, leaving the world in darkness. The many sons of Ranginui and Papa lamented the conditions that they had to endure living between their parents, and resolved to do something about it. Tane Mahuta placed his shoulders against the earth, his mother, and his feet against the sky, his father. With all his strength he pressed the earth and sky apart – letting light in and creating the world we know today.
Tane is the god of man, forests and birds, and the first Polynesian-Māori settlers to Aotearoa called the forests Te Wao-tapu-nui-a-Tane (the vast sacred woods of Tane). Tane Mahuta stands in the Waipoua Forest of Northland in New Zealand’s North Island (on the west coast north of Dargaville). This magnificent forest escaped the logging that decimated New Zealand’s kauri forests in the mid 1800s. It was due to its remoteness that the forest was largely untouched, allowing Tane Mahuta to thrive and become a potent symbol of Aotearoa’s natural environment and national heritage.
This national treasure is believed to have sprung from a seed around 1,500 to 2,000 years ago, but whatever its true age, it is ancient. The main trunk stretches for almost 18 metres with a total height of around 45.2 metres. The trunk's girth is approximately 15 metres and its volume has been estimated at 255 cubic metres.
The three ‘Kiwi Treasures – Tane Mahuta’ coins portray Tane Mahuta alongside the equally precious kiwi. The partnership is a fitting one, as the Waipoua Forest serves as an important refuge for threatened wildlife, including the North Island brown kiwi.
Sadly, the kiwi is listed as endangered, and this small, flightless bird relies on sanctuaries and conservation programmes in order to survive.