Paper Money

New series of note issues begins circulation in Tonga

Both paper and polymer notes are revealed in the announcement by the National Reserve Bank of Tonga

Images courtesy of De La Rue.

The National Reserve Bank of Tonga (NRBT) launched Tonga’s new series of bank notes on Dec. 4. The date chosen commemorates the birthday of the kingdom’s modernizer, King Tupou I, who reigned from 1845 to 1893. The series is produced in partnership with De La Rue and includes paper, polymer substrates, and updated security elements. This is the first redesign of Tongan paper money since 2015 and the Pacific nation’s first use of polymer.

Included in the series are 2-, 5-, 10-, 20-, 50-, and 100-pa’anga notes. The colors are unchanged. The most widely used denominations, the 5- and 10-pa’anga notes, are made of polymer. The others are paper. The bank chose the plastic material for the lower values because of its durability under extensive use.

One pa’anga is convertible to 43 U.S. cents. The pa’anga symbol on the note is the same as the dollar sign on U.S. currency.

All face designs have an identical portrait of King Tupou IV in the center, in contrast to his position on the right side of the 2015 issues. As for the note backs, a bank statement describes the designs of the new series as offering “vibrant reflections of the Kingdom’s rich culture, history, and aspirations.” The $2, $20, and $50 notes are adaptations of their 2015 counterparts. The others are new.

The $2 note, to promote whale-watching tourism, shows a humpback whale breaching. These creatures migrate each year from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic to the warm, sheltered waters of Vava’u to mate and calf.

The polymer $5 note shows the ancient stone Ha`amonga `a Maui Trilithon. It was built in the 13th century by King Tu`itatui in honor of his two sons. It is sometimes called the “Stonehenge of the Pacific,” as an intriguing mystery of Pacific culture.

The polymer $10 note has Princess Angelika Latufuipeka Tuku`aho performing the Kava Ceremony Milolua dance, highlighting the kava ceremony, an important cultural tradition. It is intended to serve as a reminder for future generations.

The $20 note features the National Reserve Bank of Tonga building, symbolic of the country’s present and future growth potential. The $50 note has the St. George government building to reflect the stability derived from good governance.

Tonga’s royal family against the backdrop of the royal palace is on the $100 note. This is to symbolize the enduring stability of the country and its position in the global community.

Among the security features from De La Rue are an 18-milimeter-wide embedded micro-optic stripe on the $100 note; a dynamic micro-optic thread and denominational numeral on the $50 note; a holographic thread on the $20; and transparent windows with high-resolution gravure images, gold iridescence, and denomination-specific tactile embossing on the $10 and $20 notes.

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