UPDATE: Maria's auction raised $255 for Harbour Hospice. Thank you very much for your generosity, Maria.
2 May 2023
Maria Braam has always been good with money so when she started throwing copper coins in a jar 40 years ago, she kept going till that jar was full.
As it got heavier, and then one- and two-cent pieces were phased out of circulation, the retired payroll manager from Albany moved the jar from her kitchen shelf to her front door to use as a doorstop.
Now she is going to auction the vintage half-gallon jar filled with coppers, which weighs 17kg, on Trade Me to raise money for Harbour Hospice, which cared for her husband Pieter during the final months of his life.
Very similar-looking jars were used in the 1950s for Coca Cola concentrate, and the coins represent many a Kiwi’s memories of childhood trips to the dairy to buy a pick ‘n’ mix bag of lollies.
Maria was married to Pieter for 37 years and both had been devastated when Pieter was diagnosed in 2002 with prostate cancer just weeks after retiring from his job as a builder.
“He’d written a big list of ideas on a huge blackboard in his workshop – things he wanted to do. And he’d collected these beautiful pieces of wood – kauri, rimu, tawa,” Maria recalls.
“Pieter was a man who didn’t get angry easily, but he got real angry that he wasn’t going to be able to use that workshop and do those jobs.”
Hospice was brought in when doctors had exhausted all treatment options and the care that its nurses gave Pieter, Maria will never forget.
“Those palliative care nurses are just so very special. The kindness, and the lengths they go to, to help you.”
Pieter died in 2004, 18 months after he began receiving hospice care, and as a way of giving back Maria began volunteering for the organisation. Eighteen years on she remains a loyal Hospice volunteer and also a member of the Hospice Old Girls - or HOGs, as they call themselves – a group of charity-minded women who formed hospice’s first volunteer fundraising committee and have brought in thousands of dollars for the community organisaton over the years.
In a way, being part of the HOGs has filled a void that was left when Pieter died, Maria says. “I don’t have children and I don’t have family in Auckland. Hospice has filled some of those missing parts of my life.”
A poem Maria wrote about her very special fundraiser:
Back when times were simpler and small change still made good sense
A woman started hoarding all those little copper cents
Those 1 and 2 cent pieces that back then were not worth squat
Are now worth more than you would think in fact they’re worth a lot
They live inside a fancy jar, the jar itself is great
It used to hold old precious Coca Cola Concentrate
“Whats that?” you say, and doubt you may, as I did when first told
That jar must be unique these days and worth its weight in gold
The coins inside are heavy and weigh 17KGs
Don’t pick it up! You’ll sprain your wrists and buckle at the knees!
So why would this sweet lady wish to part with such old treasure
Memories inside that jar are far too rich to measure
Personal gain is not for her, that’s not why she is selling
Something good will come of this and that’s why I am telling
All of you to offer what you can to win this auction
Don’t hold back, the cause is good, so thrift is not an option
The Hospice gains what you will give to help them in their quest
To do the work they do for us at which they are the best
A place to rest a place to contemplate what you can give
Back to all the people in your life that helped you live
So please dig deep and make your bid don’t stop or even pause
Win yourself this coin filled jar and help a worthy cause