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Royal Australian Mint enters international waters

July 7, 2011 – An important milestone was met for both the Royal Australian Mint and the Government of Samoa at an official coining ceremony at the Mint on June 23. The Assistant Treasurer and the High Commissioner of Samoa, representing the Government of Samoa, were invited onto the factory floor to strike brand new Samoan coins to enter circulation in Samoa later in 2011.

High Commissioner of Samoa and the Assistant Treasurer starting one of the presses up to make the 10 sene.

High Commissioner of Samoa and the Assistant Treasurer starting one of the presses up to make the 10 sene.

The Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, stated this partnership was an example of how the Australian Government is committed to strengthening relationships with Pacific countries.
“It is fitting that one of the Mint’s first large-scale international jobs is with our neighbouring country, Samoa. This kind of partnership reinvigorates our engagement with our Pacific island neighbours,” said the Assistant Treasurer. This contract is also an important sign for the future of the Mint in the international minting community.
“This engagement is a reflection of the Mint’s status as a world leading minting facility and will assist in its economic viability,” said the Assistant Treasurer.
“With the Mint’s significant upgrade to its facilities and technology in 2009, it now has the capacity to accept contracts from other countries without encroaching significantly into its normal, day-to-day functions.”
Royal Australian Mint CEO Mr Ross MacDiarmid stated that working on this contract has resulted in long-term benefits for the Mint.
“This has been a great opportunity for staff to further develop their skills as the coins differ in metal and even shape from the Australian coins, the most interesting being a scalloped coin,” said Mr MacDiarmid.
The Central Bank of Samoa announced earlier in April that they would be making major changes to its currency as they have lost their appeal and relevance.
“The Royal Australian Mint has designed and produced coins that are low in cost and reflect a more modern Samoa,” said Mr MacDiarmid.

Guests looking at a drum full of two tala coins.

Guests looking at a drum full of two tala coins.

“And you don’t have to be in Samoa to get your hands on this piece of history. The Mint has also produced a limited mintage silver proof collection.”

In 2010, the Central Bank of Samoa undertook a review of its existing coinage system and found that the cost of producing the current set of Samoan coins have risen dramatically. This was due to the significant increase in metal prices over the years which resulted in the costs of producing coins being much higher than their face values.

Following the Review, the Governor of the Central Bank of Samoa, Leasi Papali’i Tommy Scanlan, has announced that the Government has approved the introduction of major changes to Samoa’s currency coins.

The approved changes include removing the 1, 2 and 5 sene coins from circulation and replacing the 10, 20 and 50 sene coins with a smaller silver coloured plated material. The 1 tala coin will remain as a seven sided gold coloured coin but will be smaller in size while the 2 tala banknote will be replaced with a uniquely designed gold coloured 2 tala coin.

Governor Scanlan said the changes to the currency would remove coins that have lost their appeal and relevance over the last 45 years and bring in a coin array that is more cost effective and meets modern expectations.

“The new coins will not only be produced at lower costs, but they are also easily recognisable because of their unique sizes and shapes. The new designs will be of images reflecting Samoa’s natural environment and its custom and traditions” said Governor Scanlan.

The Royal Australian Mint will be producing the new coinage for Samoa with the Central Bank expecting to release the new coins into circulation later this year. The designs include:

10 Sene – Fautasi Race

The traditional fautasi race, where specially designed longboats are paddled by talented seamen, is the most popular one-day event during the Annual Samoa Independence celebrations in June and the Teuila Festival in September.

20 Sene – Teuila Flower

Samoa’s national flower has a beautiful torch shaped formation and grows in a variety of bright colours, but predominantly in red.

50 Sene – Manumea Bird

The Manumea is a type of pigeon found nowhere else in the world but in Samoa. Because of the concern for the survival of the Manumea, it was given full legal protection and was declared the National Bird of Samoa.

1 Tala – Kava Bowl

The traditional kava bowl is used for mixing kava in important events such as ceremonies welcoming honoured guests and visitors, and meetings of chiefs and orators.

2 Tala – Samoan National Emblem

Samoa’s national emblem consists of the stars of the southern cross, the sea and a coconut palm positioned on a shield, topped by a Christian cross and inscribed with the national motto ‘Fa’avae ile Atua Samoa’ – ‘Samoa is founded on God’.

The obverse of the coins will feature the effigy of His Highness, the Samoa Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.

Governor Scanlan said the changes to the designs of the currency brought back appeal and relevance to Samoa’s coins which had become obsolete over the years.
“The new coin designs reflect modern Samoa which is proud of its heritage and surroundings, and will serve us well into the future. All of these designs incorporate the very essence of being Samoan and our people will now have a currency they can be proud of” said Governor Scanlan.

For more information on the Royal Australian Mint visit its website.

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