?The banknotes from the Cook Islands are unique in so many ways- color, denomination, animals and symbolic monuments. While some very small island nations only have novelty banknotes, the Cook Islands’ banknotes are in circulation and are used in the islands. These beautiful notes are co-circulated with New Zealand banknotes on the island, but they are not convertible off the island. They also do not have an ISO code, which is unusual for authentic banknotes. This uniqueness also makes them hard to find outside the Cook Islands. Given the small population of the Cook Islands, they have only made 2 series of banknotes – once in 1987 and again in 1992. There is a lot of talk that the local government will change the name from Cook Islands (after Captain Cook) to a Polynesian name, so it is possible we may never see another ‘Cook Island’ banknote.
Cook Islands 10 dollar banknote from 1987
Cook Islands also introduced a $3 note along with their $10 and $20 denominations in the 1987 series. These have become sought-after tourism gifts and in some cases have been overprinted for special occasions. If we take a closer look at the banknotes, the colors resemble a sunset, with their vibrant hues of pink, orange, green and blues. What is also interesting, is the 1987 notes all have a big shark being ridden by a local woman, with an interesting story to go behind it.
The story of Ina and the Shark
The Cook islands stretched out for miles and miles across the deep blue ocean. Also home to Ina, the Fairy Voyager.
Ina was married to Tinirau, the God of the ocean, who lived on a floating island far from Ina. She longed to see her true love, but needed help crossing the harsh ocean and couldn’t do so herself. She asked turtles, birds and even fish to help her cross the ocean, but unfortunately they were too small to help her. Finally, she came across a shark who was willing to take her, and they agreed the next morning they would begin their journey. To prep for this trip Ina excitingly packed coconuts, her favorite! The next morning they set sail to Ina’s beloved Tinirau!
She got quite thirsty during the trip and remembered she packed her coconuts, but because she was so excited, forgot a knife to cut them open. Pitying the girl, the shark offered his dorsal fin. Ina drank the sweet coconut juice but soon after needed to relieve herself, but was too shy to say anything. She then relieves herself on the shark in hopes he wouldn’t notice; but that wasn’t the case. The shark was furious and threatened to throw her into the dark depths of the ocean if she did it again. Legend has it that islanders complain that shark meat smells like urine because of what Ina did.
Later on in the day Ina began to get thirsty again and asked the Shark if she could use his dorsal fin. Still upset, he declined her request but she had to take a drink. She quickly slammed the coconut on the sharks head to break it open! Legend has it, this is hammerhead shark got its’ shape and has a bump on its’ head! Thrown out by the whack from the coconut, the shark threw Ina off his back and drowned deep into the ocean, leaving Ina to fend for herself in harsh waters. The king of all sharks, Tekea the Great, happened to notice and retrieved Ina, and safely brought her to Tinirau, her beloved.
What a story!
Cook Islands 20 dollar banknote from 1992
The 1992 designs added an even stronger focus on local flora, fauna and deep rooted culture. The $3, $10, $20 and $50 denominations highlight local birds, lizards, fish, fabric designs, people and images of the 15 islands that make up the Cook Islands.
A popular banknote from this particular series is the $20 denomination. The orange color is unusual for a banknote and it has a ton of detail with pictures of shells, flowers and different birds. There is also a really scary (but totally awesome) looking Coconut Crab on the back. Next to that is a fish hook that looks a lot like the magician hook used by Maui in Disney’s Moana; pretty neat right? But that’s not even the best part, Banknote World has all of the available notes listed in this blog, in stock. Check them out and enjoy!