The paʻanga is the official currency of Tonga. The official currency symbol: T$. The currency’s name is derived from the native name given to the box bean or St Thomas’ bean. In 1806, the Tongans attacked a ship passing through Port-au-Prince in an attempt to seize it. They were unsuccessful as the crew sank the ship. Fnau Uluklala, the head of Haapai, devised a new strategy: looting everything was valuable. He discovered the ship’s cash on his inspection visit. He mistook coins for paʻanga because he had no idea what money was. Finally, after finding nothing of value, he ordered the wreck to burn. William Mariner, the only survivor of the attack, told him years later that these pieces of metal were much more valuable than simple stones to play with.
The paʻanga was established in 1967 to replace the pound. The government introduced the first coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 seniti and 1 and 2 paʻanga. Today are circulating coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 seniti. After the coinage reform, the new Tonga coins were minted in 2015 by the Royal Australian Mint.
The 1 Tongan seniti commemorative coin front design features ear of corn and the issue date. The reverse of the coin presents a vanilla orchid, the country’s name, and the denomination. This coin is part of the 1981 – 1996 commemorative series: FAO. Its rim is plain, and its color is bronze.
Text: TONGA FAKALAHI ME’AKAI 1 SENITI