MEMBERS of the public will soon begin using the new notes and coins from January 2, 2013 following the official launch of Fiji's flora and fauna series of banknotes and coins yesterday at the Novotel Convention Centre.
The new series of coins and notes, made by the Royal Canadian Mint of Canada and the De La Rue Currency of the United Kingdom, will not have Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's effigy for the first time in 78 years.
Instead, it has been replaced by several images of endangered or extinct species of plants, insects and animals found only in Fiji.
The new series of currency also introduces a $2 coin and a green $5 note in polymer (or plastic) material.
"The design and technical changes made by the Reserve Bank are indeed significant and bold and, I understand, are on par with anything at the international level," said President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, who officially launched the new currency.
"The designs have been deliberately selected by a team of eminent Fijians to firmly remind us all of our beautiful national heritage that can all be too easily lost, if we fail to protect and treasure them.
"I must say that the Reserve Bank has taken a step in the right direction by incorporating some of Fiji's unique flora and fauna onto our banknotes and coins. This is indeed high recognition, as currency is another form of a nation's identity.
"The more appealing and relevant the designs on our currency are to our national heritage, the more our currency portrays our nation. The introduction of Fiji's first $2 coin and a polymer $5 banknote has been taken to enhance the durability of these two denominations, thereby saving costs for the nation."
The project for the new series of coins and notes had begun in February, 2010
Reserve Bank of Fiji governor Barry Whiteside said the new coins and notes would co-circulate with the present ones and could still be used after January 2, 2013.
He said the use of the present notes should phase out by December next year.
The new series of notes and coins comprise different sizes, edges, and different images help the visually-impaired identify them better.
The notes have also been printed with bigger dollar numbers.
Mr Whiteside said only a limited number of coins and notes were printed, with special orders printed for local and international collectors.