Fiji dropped the image of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II from a new range of bank notes and coins unveiled yesterday, replacing her with plants and animals native to the Pacific island state.
Fiji President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said the new currency was a milestone for the former British colony, which became independent in 1970 and declared itself a republic in 1987 following a military coup. Nailatikau said the royal family had featured on Fiji’s currency since 1934 but it was time for the country to move on and introduce new coins and notes, which will enter circulation in January.
“With the new series comes a little sadness for many of us,” he said.
“We will witness a historical change. A change involving much feeling and sentiment and representing an emotional severance of a link to the British crown.
“But it is a change that is necessary. Our notes and coins will no longer feature the portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II — some will liken this to the dawning of a new era.” He said Fiji was “forever grateful” to the royal family for allowing it to use their likenesses on the currency, adding: “It is now time to move forward as we strive to create our own identity synonymous to what Fiji is all about.” Images on the polymer bank notes include the rare kulawai lorikeet, the beli fish and the tagimoucia flower, while the coins depict flying foxes, parrots and the banded iguana.
Reserve Bank governor Barry Whiteside said the new currency was more relevant to Fiji and would encourage pride in its environment.
“We’ve been a republic for 25 years, which means the queen has not been our head of state for 25 years,” he said.
“We’re just looking at the natural wonders around us and trying to reflect that in this issue.”