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New Zealand to get new bank notes

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By Kerry Rodgers

On Nov. 20 the Reserve Bank of New Zealand announced its long awaited new bank note designs.

A full makeover of the country’s existing notes has been gathering pace over the past 12 months. The emphasis has been on updating the notes’ security. While counterfeiting rates in New Zealand are low compared to the rest of the world, the name of the game is to keep ahead of the counterfeiters.

One major step forward was taken last July when the deputy governor of the RBNZ announced that the Canadian Bank Note Co. had won the tender to design and print new notes for New Zealand. This company already undertakes production of New Zealand’s high-tech passports.

At the time, the deputy governor made it clear that the new notes would be of the same size and denominations as the current series and would continue to be made of a flexible polymer plastic.


The New Zealand 5 dollar design (artist's depiction).

The New Zealand 10 dollar design (artist's depiction).

The New Zealand 10 dollar design (artist's depiction).

The New Zealand 20 dollar design (artist's depiction).

The New Zealand 20 dollar design (artist's depiction).

The New Zealand 50 dollar design (artist's depiction).

The New Zealand 50 dollar design (artist's depiction).

The New Zealand 100 dollar design (artist's depiction).

The New Zealand 100 dollar design (artist's depiction).

It was also the bank’s intent to retain the themes of the present notes but to update the way in which the various elements were portrayed. This is exactly what the bank delivered in November. The results are spectacular. New Zealanders will soon enjoy a most vibrant currency. The RBNZ has aptly summarized their efforts in two words, “brighter money.”

Apart from the striking colors the reworked designs are sharper, crisper and remarkably uncluttered. In this respects the notes should be far easier to distinguish than existing issues for anyone with vision impairment. These people are also aided by the greater color contrasts between the denominations and the larger, bolder numerals. The existing graduated note heights and widths have been maintained.

The vignettes of people, birds, plants and insects have all had total make overs. The images of Her Majesty The Queen, mountaineer Ed Hillary, suffragette Kate Sheppard, politician Sir Apirana Ngata, and Nobel Laureate Lord Rutherford are clearer; their eyes brighter.
Only Her Majesty has aged but she looks eminently regal, every inch a queen.

The specific objects associated with each individual are displayed far more prominently.

These include Rutherford’s Nobel Medal and Sheppard’s white camellia. However, Hillary’s Massey-Ferguson tractor in which he travelled in to the South Pole appears to have gone walkabout.

Native birds still dominate each note’s back but have been brought forward from their backgrounds and given their full real-life colors. The accompanying plants and/or insects have been similarly picked-out and colorized.

The new notes place greater emphasis on the New Zealand’s Maori culture. For the first time, the name of the RBNZ and the country appear in te reo Māori as Te Pūtea Matua and Aoteoroa, respectively. The names of the native birds continue to be written in Maori as Hoiho, Whio, Kārearea, Kōkako and Mohua, while the tukutuku panels feature prominently.

A silhouette of each bird plays a double role on the face of its respective note as part of new security. These include a color-changing optical feature as well as a transparent window.

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The latter is larger than on the current notes and also contains a map of New Zealand, images of the country’s iconic silver fern, and the denomination repeated numerous times.
The faces of the notes no longer show their denomination in words in a large font. Instead each is simply stated in the same size and style of font as the rest of the legal tender clause which is shown vertically, tucked away to one side e.g. “THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR FIFTY DOLLARS.”

All the new notes are signed by the governor of the bank, Graeme Wheeler.

The RBNZ intends to release the new $5 and $10 notes in October 2015 with the $20, $50 and $100 issued in April 2016. The new notes will circulate alongside the 148 million currently in circulation.

Apart from prudence and security, one reason why it is taking a considerable time to complete the changeover is that over 40,000 pieces of cash-handling equipment need to be recalibrated to accept the new notes. All told it is estimated the cost of printing and distributing the new currency over the next five years will be some $80 million.

Basic information about the new notes and upgrade is available on the website.

At this stage there is nothing definite from the RBNZ as to whether sets of the new notes will be made available for collectors. The word from the bank is, “We are still determining what collectable material will be available for public release when the notes are launched. More information will be made available closer to the time.”

In short, “Please don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Watch this space.

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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