Our coat of arms
Our formal coat of arms emphasises our guardianship role and is an important part of our heritage. A large-scale casting of our coat of arms can be seen in the foyer of our Wellington office.
History of the coat of arms
Our coat of arms was granted at the initiative of the Governor of the day, E C Fussell, who began formal procedures with the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom in November 1960. Various designs were discussed. A warrant was issued on 24 October 1961 and Letters Patent affixed on 1 June 1965. The Letters Patent have been framed and are hung in our Museum, which is located in the foyer of our building.
Symbolism used in the design
At the top of the coat of arms, a demi-griffin holding a portcullis is depicted. This is a traditional heraldic symbol for a guardian of treasure. The shield is supported by two lions, wearing collars from which keys are suspended. Our security function is emphasised by the shield's crossed keys.
The Māori head represents King Tawhiao, who lived from 1825 to 1894. It was he who, as far as we know, had the first banknote in New Zealand printed. King Tawhiao’s profile first appeared on early Bank of New Zealand banknotes, was included on the first issue of our banknotes, and was part of the watermark in banknotes issued before the change to decimal currency in July 1967.
The small bull’s head signifies the beef and dairy industries. The fleece symbolises the meat and wool industries. The ship represents the shipping industry, on which New Zealand depends for most exports and imports.
The motto 'Securitas et Vigilantia’ emphasises our position as a guardian of New Zealand’s financial system.