|As at last Wednesday in March (NZ$ thousands)|
Data are disseminated in thousands of New Zealand dollars for bank notes in the hands of the public. The table includes all bank notes currently in circulation. It includes the New Zealand dollar (NZ$) series, which began circulation on 10 July 1967, and L.S.D. notes (the currency that was in circulation prior to 10 July 1967) that remain in the hands of the public. The series start in 1968.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (the central bank) has a legal monopoly over the right to issue currency. In New Zealand, the New Zealand dollar is legal tender. As monetary liabilities of the central bank, the currency generally acts as the unit of account (or numeraire) for New Zealand – i.e. contracts are generally denominated in New Zealand dollars and cents (although there is no legal obligation to do so).
Data for Notes in the hands of the public is released in April each year.
The Statistics Release Calendar provides a long-term plan of scheduled releases. It is updated and released on the first working day of the month.
View the Statistics Release Calendar.
One of the Reserve Bank's key statutory obligations is to provide New Zealand's currency. The information in these tables is provided for reasons of public interest only.
Provisional data are italicised. Data are deemed provisional when a series is under review. New data, or revised data, are in bold font. This applies to the summary table only and not excel files. Revisions are generally published when the table is next due to be updated and released. Should revisions need to be made more promptly, a special note is posted on the RBNZ website.
Data are extracted from the RBNZ electronic system for recording movements (including new issues, re-issues and notes destroyed) in New Zealand currency.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (the central bank) has a legal monopoly over the right to issue currency and therefore the only provider of currency in New Zealand.
Since 10 July 1967, the currency in circulation in New Zealand is New Zealand dollars (NZ$) and cents. Initially, the bank notes in circulation were $1 (one dollar), $2 (two dollar), $5 (five dollar), $10 (ten dollar), $20 (twenty dollar), and $100 (one hundred dollar). The $50 (fifty dollar) note was introduced in 1983 and the $1 and $2 notes were replaced with coins in 1991.
Bank notes in the hands of the public represent all notes held outside the Reserve Bank vaults.
Prior to 10 July 1967, the currency in circulation in New Zealand was L.S.D. (pounds, shillings and pence). The notes, immediately prior to the introduction of the above decimal currency, were 10/- (ten shilling), ₤1 (one pound), ₤5 (five pound), ₤10 (ten pound), and ₤50 (fifty pound).
The virtue of cash - that you can buy or sell something instantly and conveniently - comes from the concept of legal tender. Technically, legal tender means that if I owe you money and I present you with cash, then the debt is cleared then and there. The only exception to this is if we both agree to a different form of payment beforehand. So, for example, a shop doesn't have to accept a cheque, and it doesn't even have to accept cash, but the shop has to clearly indicate to you before you do business with them that they do not accept these forms of payment.
There is a minor qualification to this, in that the law specifies limits on using annoying amounts of coins as legal tender for buying larger items. If I owe you, say, $1000, I can't present you with $1000 worth of 10 cent coins and require you to accept them as legal tender.
Reserve Bank notes and coins are defined in Section 27 of The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989, as "legal tender". The Reserve Bank is the only organisation in New Zealand that can issue bank notes and coins and determine the denominations and design of the nation's currency.
2019: Following a review of published 2019 data (in 2020), it was noted the 2019 data was not from the correct date in March (Wednesday 27 March 2019), but was from an April date and included increased cash issued in advance of Easter 2019. This resulted in total cash in circulation being overstated by $238.452m, which has now been remedied.
2020: The cash in circulation figure published as at Wednesday 25 March 2020, involved a very significant uplift from 2019. This was caused by an unprecedented demand for cash from system participants (banks, retailers, the public) in the days leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in New Zealand, which commenced at 11.59pm on 25 March 2020. It is expected a large portion of this increase will be returned to the Reserve Bank once the pandemic is over.
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