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The history of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand

This factsheet gives a brief illustrated history of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Summary

In 2009, we marked our 75th year of operations, spanning some of New Zealand’s most tumultuous decades.

Our origins stretch back many years before our founding in 1934. Initially, apart from one short-lived experiment, New Zealand had no central bank able to issue currency. Notes were issued by the main trading banks. 

While that worked after a fashion, by the early 20th century, central banks also fulfilled a number of policy roles within national economies. The British were keen for New Zealand and Australia to set up their own central bank, modelled after the Bank of England. 

Although interested, the New Zealand Government was initially reluctant to do so. But that changed during the 1920s, and in 1930, visiting British expert Otto Niemeyer recommended a New Zealand central bank.