The design process for the new decimal coins was fraught with complications and controversy. At first a public design competition was held, but the poor standard of submissions soon led the Coinage Design Advisory Committee to invite artists to present designs. A shortlist was sent to the Royal Mint in England, whose negative response sent the committee back to the drawing board. The shortlisted designs were then leaked to the media – and the public response was no more favourable than the Mint's. Another set of designs was sent to the Mint and the response was more promising. A public poll was held in newspapers and the crowd favourite, James Berry, eventually emerged the winner, with the government choosing his designs for the entire series of coins.
The coins pictured above are rejected designs for the 20-cent piece. They are (top row, from left) Gordon Norfolk's Māori carver and Paul Beadle's kōtuku (white heron), and (bottom row, from left) , Eileen Mayo's swordfish and Francis Shurrock's footballer. Mayo's designs were highly praised by distinguished British art critic Kenneth Clark, and Beadle's kōtuku found favour with those interested in contemporary art, but Shurrock's footballer was universally disliked.
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Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: AAOA W4698 6000 Box 14 d
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