This week we are featuring a banknote from Tonga. In Tongan it is called Fakatu’i’o Tonga, and nicknamed the “Friendly Islands.” Tonga is an archipelago consisting of 170 islands in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean. These islands came about by underwater volcanoes, some of which are still active. Tonga has a semitropical climate, and is the mating and birthing grounds for the endangered humpback whale.
Tonga 2 Pa’anga p32b (BNB207b) is a paper note with English and Tongan text. On the front of this banknote are images of King Taufa’ahau Tupou, and the coat of arms. The back of the note displays four women making tapa cloth with a hut and palm trees in the background. The watermark for this note is King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV.
King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV was the King of Tonga from 1965, after the death of his mother, until his own death in 2006. Although he wasn’t formally crowned until 1967. Before his death, he was the fifth longest reigning monarch. In his youth the King was an avid sportsman and preacher. In his later years, he was involved in some financial controversy which led to his constituents calling for a more transparent and democratic government.
Tonga’s coat of arms was designed in 1862. The shield is quartered with the top left quarter displaying three stars. These stars represent the three main island groups: Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u. The top right quarter shows a crown which signifies the kingdom itself. On the bottom left is a dove that symbolizes peace and the Christian faith. The bottom right shows three swords that represent the three royal dynasties of Tonga. In the center of the shield is a six-pointed star with a cross. Above the shield are two national flags of Tonga, and below the shield is the motto: “Koe Otua mo Tonga ko hoku tofia” which translates to “God and Tonga are my inheritance.”
Tapa cloth is made from the fibers of a Mulberry tree. It is also called bark cloth. The cloth is decorated with stamps, stencils, smoke or with dye. The designs usually show geometric designs, fish, or plants. Tapa cloth is not specific to just Tonga, but to many other Pacific Island nations. In ancient times, Tapa cloth was used for clothing, but more easily made textiles have replaced it. Nowadays, it is usually only worn on special occasions.
This nice-looking 2 Pa’anga banknote is from 1995. The main images on this banknote are of King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, coat of arms, and women making tapa cloth. The current price for this banknote is $15.00, but it is subject to change. To see more about this note or other notes like it, head to our website.
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Denomination: 2 Pa’anga
Pick #: 32b
Banknote Book #: 207b
Other Info: Sign 3 (as per BNB)
Depictions: King Taufaahau; Hut with locals outside
Note Size: 6″ x 2 3/4″
Continent: Australia and the South Pacific
Watermark: King Taufaahau