From this month you may find a colourful new coin in your change. The Armistice Day 50 cent coin is being issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I. Two million of these coins have been minted.
The Armistice Day coin won't replace our existing 50 cent, but as it is legal tender and in general circulation, it can be used just like a normal coin. So, if you come across one, you can choose to spend it, or keep it to remember.
The standout feature of the Armistice Day coin is the use of colour – a striking red, green and white.
It has been created using technology by the Royal Canadian Mint – who also supply our 10, 20 and 50 cent coins.
The coin features a koru representing new beginnings, and a silver fern reflecting our national identity. The coloured remembrance wreath created by artist Dave Burke represents past, present and future. It also symbolises our three armed forces. At the centre of the coin is the RNZRSA's red poppy, an international symbol of war remembrance. On the other side of the coin is a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr says the coin would have significance for those whose relatives served in the First World War.
"It's important we play our part in commemorating significant world events that impacted on our people," he says.
WWI began in Europe in August 1914. As neighbouring countries were drawn into the conflict it became the bloodiest the world had ever seen to that time. In just over four years millions of soldiers and civilians were killed and wounded. New Zealanders were involved in many campaigns on land, in the air and at sea. Gallipoli in particular is etched into our nation’s memory.
WWI had an impact on nearly every family in New Zealand. We sent over 100,000 young men, more than 550 nurses and others – it was almost 9% of our population at the time. More than 58,000 New Zealanders became casualties, of those over 16,500 were killed. More died later from the effects of poison gas and disease.
On 11 November 1918 the guns finally fell silent. New Zealand nurse Fanny Speedy was in England at the time and wrote: "PEACE BLESSED PEACE. The bells rang at 11am and soon we knew the Armistice had been signed. The whole thing seems too big to realise and too sad to understand. The men in the trenches must thankfully rejoice that there is not another winter to spend in France."
The Armistice Day coin commemorates the 100th anniversary of this defining event in our nation's history and helps us remember the sacrifices made by service personnel and their families to bring peace to New Zealand and the world.
Click here for more information on the Armistice day coin, the images in the video and how to download the RBNZ Armistice Day Coin mobile app.
This article was created for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.