How Fiji Central bank honored and celebrated the country’s first Olympic Gold medal win in Rio..

An interesting speech on how central bank and governments keep the feeling of nationalism going.

Fiji won its first medal ever in Rio Olympics in the sport of Rugby 7.  The central bank decided to honor the win by issuing a colored coin but the project got into difficulty as only one side could be colored. This led to delay leading to some compromises.

The episode is nicely covered in this speech by the central bank governor Barry Whiteside:

Many will recall that soon after the gold medal win in Rio, the Reserve Bank had announced that a coloured (or painted) circulation coin would be released in limited quantities commemorating this first ever achievement for us. We were happy, and with the euphoria anything was possible at that time. Also I might reveal that, over the past few years, issuing a coloured coin has been very much on our minds. We were looking for the opportune time to have our first ever painted circulation coin and it came in Rio!

Designs were selected for both the obverse and reverse, quantities decided, productions slots locked in and many reviews of the designs undertaken along with the appropriate colours (one of them being red! I wonder why?). Unfortunately technological limitations began to “bite” us and we were told that only one side of the coin could be painted. Our wish, of course, was to have both sides painted. We even explored painting equal quantities of each side of the coin. But despite our best efforts, it was not to be and we were advised that there was high possibility that the paint would come off the coins with constant circulation.

We wanted to deliver to the people of Fiji a coin that would keep them proudly reminiscing of our victory in Rio and I must apologise that this earlier promise of a painted coin will not come to fruition at this time. So we were then compelled to re-think this pledge. Rather than totally forsaking the project, we decided to have at least something for everyone at the lowest cost possible – something that our children could get their hands on and hold on to. For that reason, we had to temper our wishes and settle to issue non-painted coins in the same elegant designs that were earlier selected. I acknowledge that many would be disappointed at not having the painted coin, like we ourselves are. However, I hope what will be unveiled today will be to the liking of all Fijians.

Ladies and Gentlemen, an iconic banknote denomination will also be unveiled today, synonymous with the abbreviated code of rugby, a sport that is loved by all Fijians, a sport that we excel in and a sport that unites us. You will witness the unveiling of a denomination that would not only be a first for Fiji but one, which we have on good authority, will be the only note of its kind in the entire world. Not only will this be an iconic banknote denomination, the designs, the orientation and the layout of the banknote are also different. Traditionally, we have always had horizontal note designs on both the obverse and reverse. We are now breaking away from this tradition.

For the first time, we will have a note which will be vertically orientated, complementing the design and theme chosen on the obverse. The reverse will continue to be horizontally oriented, again complementing the design. This has been carefully thought out, ensuring there is synergy between the obverse and reverse. We Fijians love to do things differently in our little paradise. After all, being the Rugby 7s Olympic Champions, things have to be a little bit different now. We may be a small nation but we have the ability to think big and punch above our weight in many of the things we do. So at the Bank we wanted to deliver something very unique. I am hopeful we have delivered this to the people of Fiji and that this banknote will be loved by all.



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