New Zealand dollar

New Zealand dollar
New Zealand dollar
Tāra o Aotearoa (Māori)
ISO 4217 code NZD
User(s)  New Zealand
Inflation 4.5% (New Zealand only)
Source Reserve Bank of New Zealand, March 2011
Pegged by Cook Islands dollar at par
1/100 cent
Symbol $
cent c
Nickname kiwi
Coins 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2
Banknotes $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
Central bank Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Printer Note Printing Australia (provides base polymer note material)

The New Zealand dollar (sign: $; code: NZD) is the currency of New Zealand. It also circulates in the Cook Islands (see also Cook Islands dollar), Niue, Tokelau, and the Pitcairn Islands. It is divided into 100 cents.

It is normally written with the dollar sign $, or NZ$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. In the context of currency trading, it is often informally called the "Kiwi", since kiwi are commonly associated with New Zealand and the $1 coin depicts a kiwi. It is one of the 10 most-traded currencies in the world being approximately 1.6% of global foreign exchange market daily turnover in 2010.[1] (see Global Foreign Exchange Market section below)




Before the New Zealand dollar, the currency of New Zealand was the pound, which had been distinct from the pound sterling since 1933.

Switching to decimal currency to replace the cumbersome and complicated £sd system had been proposed in New Zealand since the 1930s, although only in the 1950s did any plans come to fruition. In 1957, a committee was set up by the Government to investigate decimal currency. The idea fell on fertile ground, and in 1963, the Government decided to decimalise New Zealand currency.[2]

The Decimal Currency Act was passed in 1964, setting the date of transition to 10 July 1967. Words such as "kiwi" and "zeal" were proposed to avoid confusion with the word "dollar", which many people at the time associated with the United States dollar. In the end, the word "dollar" was chosen, and an anthropomorphic dollar note cartoon character called "Mr. Dollar" became the symbol of transition in a huge publicity campaign.[2]

On 10 July 1967 ("Decimal Currency Day"), the New Zealand dollar was introduced to replace the pound at a rate of two dollars to one pound (ten shillings to one dollar, ten cents to one shilling). Some 27 million new banknotes were printed and 165 million new coins were minted for the changeover.[3]

Exchange rate

The New Zealand dollar was initially pegged to the US dollar at US$1.39 = NZ$1. This rate changed on 21 November of the same year[when?] to US$1.12 = NZ$1 after the devaluation of the British pound (see Bretton Woods system), although New Zealand devalued more than the UK.[4]

In 1971 the US devalued its dollar relative to gold, leading New Zealand on 23 December to peg its dollar at US$1.216 with a 4.5% fluctuation range, keeping the same gold value. From 9 July 1973 to 4 March 1985 the dollar's value was determined from a trade-weighted basket of currencies.

The NZ$ was floated on 4 March 1985 at the initial rate of US$0.4444. Since then the dollar's value has been determined by the financial markets, and has been in the range of about US$0.39 to 0.88.

The dollar's post-float minimum average daily value was US$0.3922 on 22 November 2000, and it set a post-float maximum on 22 July 2011 of US$0.8666. Much of this medium-term variation in the exchange rate has been attributed to differences in interest rates.[citation needed]

The New Zealand dollar's value is often strongly affected by currency trading,[citation needed] and is among the 10 most-traded currencies.[5]

On 11 June 2007 the Reserve Bank sold an unknown amount of New Zealand dollars in an attempt to drive down its value. This is the first intervention in the markets by the Bank since the float in 1985.

Two suspected interventions followed, but they were not as successful as the first: the first appeared to be initially effective, with the dollar dropping to approximately US$0.7490 from near US$0.7620. However, within little more than a month it had risen to new post-float highs, reaching US$0.8103 on 23 July 2007.

After reaching its post-float record high in early 2008, the value of the NZ$ plummeted throughout much of the 2nd half of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 as a response to the global economic downturn and flight by investors away from "riskier" currencies such as the NZ$. The NZ$ bottomed out at approximately US$0.50 on 6 March 2009.[6] However, it rebounded strongly as the year progressed, reaching the US$0.75 range by November 2009.[6]



On the introduction of the dollar, coins came in denominations of 1¢, 2¢, 5¢, 10¢, 20¢, and 50¢. The 1¢ and 2¢ coins were bronze, the others cupro-nickel.[7] To ease transition, the 5¢, 10¢ and 20¢ were the same size as the sixpence, shilling and florin that they respectively replaced. Until 1970 the 10¢ coin bore the additional legend "One Shilling". The obverse designs of all the coins featured Arnold Machin's portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, with the legend ELIZABETH II NEW ZEALAND [date]. The reverse sides of coins introduced in 1967 did not follow the designs that were originally intended for them. Those modern art and sculpture themed designs were leaked to a newspaper and met a very negative public reaction. The final releases were given more conservative designs in line with public expectations.

In 1986, New Zealand adopted Raphael Maklouf's new portrait of the Queen. The 1¢ and 2¢ coins were last minted for circulation in 1987, with collector coins being made for 1988. The coins were demonetised on 30 April 1990.[7] The lack of 1¢ and 2¢ coins meant that cash transactions were normally rounded to the nearest 5¢ (10c from 2006), a process known as Swedish rounding.

On 11 February 1991, aluminium-bronze $1 and $2 coins were introduced to replace existing $1 and $2 notes.[7] In 1999, Ian Rank-Broadley's portrait of the Queen was introduced and the legend rearranged to read NEW ZEALAND ELIZABETH II.

On 11 November 2004 the Reserve Bank announced that it proposed to take the 5¢ coin out of circulation and to make the 50¢, 20¢ and 10¢ coins smaller and use plated steel to make them lighter. After a three-month public submission period that ended on 4 February 2005, the Reserve Bank announced on 31 March that it would go ahead with the proposed changes. The changeover period started on 31 July 2006, with the old coins usable until 31 October 2006.[7] The old 50¢, 20¢, 10¢ and 5¢ pieces are now no longer legal tender, but are still redeemable at the Reserve Bank. Prior to the change over these coins were similar, save for the legend and reverse artwork, to international (mainly Commonwealth) coins of the same British-derived sizes, which led to coins from other currencies, particularly older coins, being accepted by vending machines and many retailers.

Current circulating coins

The reverse designs of the current circulating New Zealand dollar coins. Image by Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
Value Technical Parameters Description Date of issue
Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Obverse Reverse
10¢ 20.50 mm 1.58 mm 3.30 g Copper-plated steel Plain Queen Elizabeth II A Māori koruru, or carved head. 31 July 2006
20¢ 21.75 mm 1.56 mm 4.00 g Nickel-plated steel "Spanish Flower" Queen Elizabeth II Māori carving of Pukaki, a chief of the Ngati Whakaue iwi[8] 31 July 2006
50¢ 24.75 mm 1.70 mm 5.00 g Plain HM Bark Endeavour and Mount Egmont
$1 23.00 mm 2.74 mm 8 g Aluminium bronze Intermittent milling Queen Elizabeth II Kiwi and Silver Fern 11 February 1991
$2 26.50 mm 2.70 mm 10 g Grooved Kotuku (Great Egret)
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the coin specification table.


In 1967, notes were introduced in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $100, with all except the $5 replacing their pound predecessors. The original series of dollar notes featured a portrait of the Queen on the obverse, while the reverse featured native birds and plants. The notes were changed slightly in 1981 due to a change of printer - the most noticeable difference being the portrait of the Queen, whom had been updated and now was facing forward, not to the left. The $50 note was added in 1983 to fill the long gap between the $20 and the $100 notes. $1 and $2 notes were discontinued in 1991 after being replaced with coins.

A new series of notes was introduced in 1992. The obverse of each note featured a notable New Zealander, while the reverse featured a native New Zealand bird and New Zealand scenery. In 1999, polymer notes replaced the existing paper notes. The designs remained much the same, but were changed slightly to accommodate new security features, with the most obvious changes being the two transparent windows.

Current circulating banknotes

Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of issue
Obverse Reverse Watermark
$5 135 mm × 66 mm Orange Sir Edmund Hillary
Aoraki/Mount Cook
Massey Ferguson tractor
Hoiho (Yellow-eyed Penguin)
Campbell Island scene
Queen Elizabeth II 1999
$10 140 mm × 68 mm Blue Kate Sheppard
White camellia flowers
Whio (Blue Duck)
River scene
$20 145 mm × 70 mm Green Queen Elizabeth II
New Zealand Parliament Buildings
Karearea (New Zealand falcon)
New Zealand alpine scene
$50 150 mm × 72 mm Purple Sir Apirana Ngata
Porourangi Meeting House
Kōkako (Blue wattled crow)
Conifer broadleaf forest scene
$100 155 mm × 74 mm Red Lord Rutherford of Nelson
Nobel Prize medal
Mohua (Yellowhead)
South Island lichen moth (Declana egregia)
Beech forest scene
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.

History of NZ$ foreign exchange rates

With the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in 1971, both Australia and New Zealand converted the mostly-fixed foreign exchange regimes to a moving peg against the US dollar.

In September 1974, Australia moved to a peg against a basket of currencies called the trade weighted index (TWI) in an effort to reduce fluctuations associated with its peg to the US dollar. The peg to the TWI was changed to a moving peg in November 1976, causing the actual value of the peg to be periodically adjusted.

Since the late 1990s, and certainly since the end of the Cold War the US$ has had less and less overall influence over the value of both the NZ$ and A$ against other currencies.

Current NZD exchange rates

Global Foreign Exchange Market

Most traded currencies by value
Currency distribution of global foreign exchange market turnover[1]
Rank Currency ISO 4217 code
 % daily share
(April 2010)
United StatesUnited States dollar
USD ($)
European UnionEuro
EUR (€)
JapanJapanese yen
JPY (¥)
United KingdomPound sterling
GBP (£)
AustraliaAustralian dollar
AUD ($)
SwitzerlandSwiss franc
CHF (Fr)
CanadaCanadian dollar
CAD ($)
Hong KongHong Kong dollar
HKD ($)
SwedenSwedish krona
SEK (kr)
New ZealandNew Zealand dollar
NZD ($)
South KoreaSouth Korean won
KRW (₩)
SingaporeSingapore dollar
SGD ($)
NorwayNorwegian krone
NOK (kr)
MexicoMexican peso
MXN ($)
IndiaIndian rupee
Other 12.2%
Total[9] 200%

The New Zealand dollar contributes in a very large way to the total global exchange market far in excess of New Zealand's rank as a percentage of Population or Global GDP. For the last several years New Zealand has ranked approximately the 10th most traded currency. In the year 2010, according to the international bank of settlements, the total amount traded ranked in order of most traded to least traded, as a percentage of global foreign exchange market daily turnover was 1.6% giving it a rank of 10th.[1]:

Inflation and deflation

Because the New Zealand dollar has been a fiat currency for such a long time, very large and long term rates of inflation are possible. As an example, on the television series "Pioneer House" Set at approximately 1900 (TVNZ, 2001), the #2 Grey Lynn, Auckland house sold originally for 200 New Zealand pounds (1 pound was equal to 2 dollars when New Zealand moved to decimal currency) but as of 2001 sold for NZ$321,000.[10][clarification needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Foreign exchange and derivatives market activity in April 2010 – Preliminary results" (PDF). Triennial Central Bank Survey. Bank for International Settlements. Retrieved 8 March 2011.  [pg.9 of PDF]
  2. ^ a b "Explaining New Zealand's currency". Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Retrieved 17 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "Today in History - 10 July -". Retrieved 17 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Global Financial Data. "New Zealand Dollar (USD per NZD)". Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  5. ^ Victoria Batchelor and Chris Young, Cullen Says N.Z. Dollar Has `Peaked,' Expects Decline (Update1) 2 August 2007 Bloomberg (access date 10 February 2008)[not in citation given]
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b c d History of New Zealand Coinage, Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Accessed 4 April 2009.
  8. ^ Tim Watkin, Figure of unity, NZ Listener, 13–19 November 2004, Vol 196, No 3366. Accessed 14 June 2007.
  9. ^ The total sum is 200% because each currency trade always involves a currency pair.
  10. ^ Pioneer House at NZ on Screen. Retrieved 10 July 2011.

External links

Preceded by:
New Zealand pound
Reason: decimalisation
Ratio: 2 dollars = 1 pound
Currency of New Zealand
10 July 1967 –
Succeeded by:

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