New banknotes next step in NZ currency evolution

Release date
05 July 2014

New Zealand's currency will take another significant evolutionary step next year when modernised banknotes with more advanced security features are introduced, Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand said in a speech today.

In a speech titled The evolution of New Zealand's currency, Mr Bascand said the Reserve Bank is committed to meeting New Zealand's future currency needs.

"While other means of payment keep growing, cash remains in strong demand, and we need to keep it current and viable for its users."

"Security features and the technology for designing and printing banknotes have advanced considerably since the current banknote series was first issued in the early 1990s. While counterfeiting rates in New Zealand are low compared to the rest of the world, we need to stay one step ahead of the game."

Mr Bascand said the Reserve Bank's project to upgrade and improve the security of New Zealand's banknotes is progressing well, and Canadian Bank Note Company (CBNC) has been selected to design and print New Zealand's next series of banknotes.

"CBNC has a strong reputation for technologically advanced printing, and the Bank has confidence that it will deliver high quality banknotes which New Zealanders can continue to identify with and trust. CBNC currently manufactures New Zealand's passports and prints the Bank of Canada's banknotes," Mr Bascand said.

The new banknotes will be the same size and denominations as the current series, and will continue to be made of a flexible polymer plastic. While the designs will be updated, the themes of the notes will remain the same, with the same New Zealanders, flora and fauna remaining central to the designs. The Bank expects to publicly release the ‘near final' banknote designs in November, after they have been thoroughly tested.

Subject to successful testing, the new notes will be progressively released by denomination, likely starting in the fourth quarter of 2015. The new notes will co-circulate with the current notes for a period of time. Both the current series and new notes will be legal tender.

"The Reserve Bank will continue consultation with banknote equipment manufacturers and industry stakeholders in the lead-up to the release of the new notes, to ensure a smooth transition."

Mr Bascand says the Bank is also evaluating new minting technologies which could allow coloured circulating coins, and is working with New Zealand Post to develop opportunities to mark next year's Gallipoli centenary.

"Innovation is central to the New Zealand culture and important to the Reserve Bank. With this in mind, we will find new ways to celebrate New Zealand in our currency while preserving the core integrity, functionality and confidence in the product."

For more information see these banknote upgrade questions and answers.

Media Contact:
Naomi Mitchell
External Communications Adviser
Ph 04 471 3960, 027 485 9474, naomi.mitchell@rbnz.govt.nz