40th Anniversary of Decimalisation

Release date
10 July 2007

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand today marked the 40th anniversary of currency decimalisation.

Forty years ago on the 10th of July 1967 New Zealand replaced pounds, shillings and pence with decimal currency.

Reserve Bank Head of Currency Alan Boaden said the idea of switching New Zealand to decimal currency was raised in 1933 by the New Zealand Numismatic Society. "The idea was rejected at the time because of the cost, and – funnily enough – because there was a thought that the imperial fractions were easier for most people to handle.

"The idea did not go away, however, and there was further talk of decimalisation in the 1950s. In 1957 the Government set up a special committee to investigate; the idea fell on fertile ground, and in 1963 the Government decided to decimalise – setting the change over, dubbed ‘Decimal Currency' (DC) day, for 10 July 1967.

"A great deal of work was required to make the change, including a huge publicity campaign. There were public discussions over what the new decimal money might be called. Words such as ‘kiwi' and ‘zeal' were proposed to avoid confusion with ‘dollar', which most people at the time associated with American money," said Mr Boaden.

Mr Boaden said in the end, though, the word ‘dollar' was selected, and "Mr Dollar' became the symbol of transition.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary the Reserve Bank museum in Wellington will be hosting, with the help of Westpac's Archives, a James Berry exhibition from 16 July until 26 October 2007.

James Berry was commissioned in 1966 to produce designs for all the coins. Over the years the designs on New Zealand's coins have changed but Berry's ten and fifty cent coin designs remain in use today.

Anthea Black
Communications Adviser
Ph 04 471 3767, 021 222 5225, anthea.black@rbnz.govt.nz