Brighter Money background

The Reserve Bank regularly reviews and improves New Zealand’s banknotes to ensure the security features within them are updated. With technology constantly evolving, it is important our banknotes keep up, to help ensure counterfeiting levels remain low.

The project to upgrade New Zealand's banknotes started in 2011. In November 2014 the Reserve Bank publicly released the new banknote designs, announcing that $5 and $10 would be available from October 2015 with $20, $50 and $100 following in April 2016.

How we got here

Prior to the project being launched in 2011, Nielsen was commissioned by the Bank to survey New Zealanders' opinions of the current series. This survey, carried out in 2010, focused on a number of areas including public satisfaction with New Zealand currency.

Then in 2012 the Reserve Bank issued a request for information document seeking tenderers for the design, development and printing of new banknotes.

How much is this upgrade expected to cost?

The costs of regular banknote upgrades, which typically take place every 10 - 15 years, have to be balanced against increasing risks of counterfeiting as technology advances.

Of the approximately 148 million notes in circulation ($4.7 billion) we receive, process and re-issue over 140 million banknotes each year. We expect it will cost an extra $7-8 million per annum for the next five years to issue and distribute the new notes, and replace our reserve stocks.

While the cost of purchasing new notes over five years will be about $80 million, in the ordinary course of business we could have incurred costs printing the current notes. The additional costs, as a result of moving to a newer, more secure design, are about $40 million.

More information about Brighter Money

November 2014

Video of the banknote design launch (23m 24s)

Speech - "Brighter Money - enhancing innovation and embracing heritage"

News release - Reserve Bank releases Brighter Money designs

July 2014

Speech - "The evolution of New Zealand Currency"

News release - New banknotes next step in NZ currency evolution


Paper for the Cabinet Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee (PDF 323KB)

October 2013

Reserve Bank Board Paper (PDF 300KB)

June 2012

Request for Information (RFI) (PDF 1.9MB)

July 2011

Executive Summary: 2010 Currency Survey

News release - New Zealand banknote upgrade project under way

June 2010

Summary of Reserve Bank banknotes survey - Consumers (PDF 1.6MB)

Reserve Bank banknotes survey - Retailers (PDF 968KB)

Designing and printing banknotes

A general explanation about what is involved in designing and printing banknotes is available on the Life-cycle of a banknote page.

More information is also available in the Bulletin article 'Designing New Zealand’s new banknote series'.