16 May 2000
Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Murray Sherwin said: "These so-called Chatham Island dollars are harmless as a promotional gimmick and as a bit of fun. Also, if people want to use them to undertake transactions, that's fine too, just as one can pay for a service with monopoly play money, sea shells, or bottles of beer, if the seller is happy to receive them.
"But the law does not permit anyone, aside from the Reserve Bank, to issue bank notes or anything claiming to be legal tender. The Reserve Bank some time ago indicated to the group producing the Chatham Islands notes that, so long as they didn't pretend to be issuing legal tender, that was fine. Indeed, the actual notes do not resemble New Zealand's currency and thus they have the same status as `monopoly play money, sea shells or bottles of beer'.
"However, since then in one reported statement these Chatham Island dollars have been called "legal tender" by one of the people marketing them. I'm sure this was an accidental slip of the tongue, or incorrect reporting, but I will be writing to the group just to remind them of the law in this area.
"In practical terms, a person selling goods or services is obliged to accept legal tender as payment. Nobody on the Chatham Islands or anywhere else is in any way obliged to accept Chatham Islands dollars as payment for anything," Mr Sherwin concluded.
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Corporate Affairs Manager
Phone 04 471 3671, home 04 938 8177, pager 026 105 085,