The history of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Release date
July 2009


In 2009 the Reserve Bank marked its 75th year of operations three-quarters of a century spanning some of New Zealand’s most tumultuous decades.

The origins of the Reserve Bank stretch back many years before its 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. That worked after a fashion, but by the early twentieth century, central banks also fulfilled a number of policy roles within national economies. The British were eager for New Zealand and Australia to set up their own, 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.