New Zealand fifty-cent coin
|Value||0.50 New Zealand dollars|
|Years of minting||1967 - present|
|Design||Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand|
|Design||Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour near Mount Taranaki|
|Designer||Reginald George James Berry|
The New Zealand fifty-cent coin is a coin of the New Zealand dollar. It was the largest by denomination, diameter and mass to have been introduced on the decimalisation of the currency on 10 July 1967, replacing the pre-decimal crown coin (five shillings).
On 31 July 2006, as part of a revision of New Zealand's coinage, the fifty cent was made smaller, lighter and of a cheaper alloy (nickel-plated steel). On 1 November of that year the previous larger fifty cent coin was demonetised.
Both the larger and smaller coin featured on its reverse the HMS Endeavour on which Captain Cook became the first Briton to reach New Zealand, in October 1769. The obverse, as per all New Zealand coins, features the reigning monarch, which throughout the coin's mintage has only been Queen Elizabeth II.
Following a 1959 committee, it was agreed in 1963 that New Zealand would use decimal currency. In 1964, the denominations, designs, weights and diameters of the coins were confirmed in the Decimal Currency Act. The decimal dollar replaced the New Zealand pound (pegged to the British pound) at the rate of two dollars per pound, thus a fifty-cent coin would be a continuation of a quarter of a pound. The pre-decimal version of a quarter of a pound was the Crown coin (five shillings) which throughout the British Empire was not widely used (the New Zealand crown was only issued in 1935, 1949 and 1953 with a total of 458,148 specimens). However, the fifty-cent retained the dimensions and composition of the Crown but with a different reverse image.
The original fifty-cent coin which circulated between 1967 and 2006 was made of cupro-nickel. At 31.75mm diameter and weighing 13.61g it is the largest coin issued of the dollar. The original included five sections of alternate milling - the current version is plain. From 1967 to 1985 all New Zealand coins featured Arnold Machin's portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. Reginald James George Berry was selected to design the reverse of all of New Zealand's decimal coins, and his fifty cent's design featured the HMS Endeavour, the ship on which Captain Cook became the first Briton to reach New Zealand in October 1769. Mount Taranaki is seen in the distance and the legend ENDEAVOUR is written on the bottom. The design remains unchanged to the present day.
New Zealand adopted decimal currency on 10 July 1967 and $5,000,000 worth of fifty-cent coins were issued that year. The large amount meant that no further minting occurred until 1971-the longest wait for a second year of production for any of the original decimal coins.
In 1986 the portrait of the Queen was changed to the version by Raphael Maklouf which had been introduced to the coins of the pound sterling in the previous year. This portrait remained on the obverse until the current version by Ian Rank-Broadley was introduced in 1999. However, no 50 cent coins were minted for the years 1989 to 2000.
In 2006, New Zealand revised its coinage. The fifty-cent coin was altered due to its size being larger than most of the world's coins, and therefore being an inconvenience to the public. In 2004, 51% of the public when asked by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand if they supported reducing size of coins agreed to the changes, and the rate grew to 66% when it was revealed that it would save taxpayers' money. The alloy was changed to nickel-plated steel, which saved 25% of minting costs and the edge was smoothed. The changes were brought about as the fifty cent had once been the pre-decimal crown which had a higher buying power.
The immediate production of the smaller coin was a face value of NZ$35.1 million (70.2 million coins) and entered circulation on 31 July 2006 alongside the larger coin. The larger coin was withdrawn from circulation on 1 November 2006.
In 1969, to mark the bicentennial of the Endeavour's arrival to New Zealand, a commemorative version of the fifty cent with the Machin portrait was produced with an inscription on its edge. Since no regular fifty cent coins were issued in 1969 the coin is rare. Estimated mintage; 100,000.
In 1994, a bimetallic coin of fifty cents was issued to mark the 225th anniversary of the Endeavour's arrival. The coin featured the Maklouf portrait and is New Zealand's only ever bimetallic coin.
In 2003 six coins with the Rank-Broadley portrait were released, with images of characters from The Lord of the Rings. The link to New Zealand was that they were directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson. Silver dollars with the characters were also produced.
In March 2015 a special commemorative circulating 50c coin was issued by the Reserve Bank to mark the centenary of the ANZAC landings. The obverse features the usual Rank-Broadley image of Queen Elizabeth II while the reverse shows two soldiers in profile facing away from each other. Unusually this side has a coloured (actually black) background upon which a Maori motif is superimposed. These coins were minted in Canada and the mintage was one million.
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