New Zealand pound

New Zealand pound
New Zealand pound
ISO 4217 code NZP
User(s) New Zealand, Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, Tokelau
1/20 shilling
1/240 penny
Symbol £
shilling s
penny d
Freq. used ½d, 1d, 3d, 6d, 1/-, 2/-, 2/6
Rarely used 5/-
Banknotes 10/-, £1, £5, £10, £50
Central bank Reserve Bank of New Zealand
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

The pound was the currency of New Zealand between 1840 and 1967. Like the British pound, it was subdivided into 20 shillings each of 12 pence. As a result of the great depression of the early 1930s, the New Zealand agricultural export market to the UK was badly affected. The Australian banks which controlled the New Zealand exchanges with London decided to devalue the New Zealand pound in relation to sterling in the UK. By 1933, the New Zealand pound had fallen to a value of only 16 shillings sterling. In 1948 however, it was once again restored to its original sterling value. In 1967 New Zealand decimalised its currency, replacing the pound with the dollar at a rate of 2 dollars = 1 pound (1 dollar = 10 shillings). In November that year the pound sterling devalued and New Zealand used this as an opportunity to re-align its new dollar to parity with the Australian dollar. For a more general view of history in the wider region, see The Pound Sterling in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.



Initially, British and Australian coins circulated in New Zealand. The devaluation of the New Zealand pound relative to sterling in the 1930s led to the issue of distinct New Zealand coins in 1933, in denominations of 3 and 6 pence, 1 shilling, 1 florin (2 shillings) and ½ crown (2½ shillings), minted in 50% silver until 1946 and in cupro-nickel from 1947. In 1940, bronze ½ and 1 penny coins were introduced. All these denominations were the same size and weight as their equivalents in the Australian and UK coinage (although Australia never minted the ½ crown). When the UK introduced the nickel-brass twelve sided threepenny bit, New Zealand continued to use the smaller silver coin, until decimalisation in 1967.

Reverse Image Value Technical Parameters Description Date of
Diameter Thickness Mass Composition Edge Obverse Reverse Issue Withdrawal
NZP halfpenny reverse.gif ½d 26 mm 5.7 g Bronze Plain King George VI (1940-52)
Queen Elizabeth II (1953-67)
A Māori hei-tiki (neck pendant) with ornamental tukutuku patterns on each side 1940
NZP penny reverse.jpg 1d 31 mm 9.5 g A tui perched in a setting of yellow kowhai blossoms
NZP threepence reverse.gif 3d 16 mm 1.4 g 50% silver (1933-1946)
Cupronickel (1947-1967)
Plain King George V (1933-1936)
King George VI (1937-1952)
Queen Elizabeth II (1953-1967)
Two carved patu (Maori weapons) crossed with lanyards or throngs attached, with “3d” between their blades 1933
NZP sixpence reverse.gif 6d 19 mm 2.9 g Continuously milled A huia perched on a branch 31 October 20061
NZP shilling reverse.gif 1/- (1s) 23 mm 5.7 g A figure of a Maori warrior in warlike attitude carrying a taiaha
NZP florin reverse.jpg 2/- 28.5 mm 11.3 g A kiwi facing left
NZP halfcrown reverse.gif 2/6 (2s, 6d) 32 mm 14.1 g Arms of New Zealand on a background of Māori carvings.
These images are to scale at 2.5 pixels per millimetre. For table standards, see the coin specification table.


  1. The sixpence, shilling, and florin, although scarce to see in circulation, remained legal tender as late as 2006, being used as the identical size and value successors: the 5c, 10c, and 20c coins respectively. They were demonetised on 31 October 2006 when the 5c coin and the original 10c and 20c coins were withdrawn from circulation.

Commemorative crowns (5 shillings) were minted in 1935, 1949 and 1953 for the Treaty of Waitangi, a royal visit and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, respectively.


Until 1934, private trading banks issued notes. The first bank notes were issued in New Zealand in 1840 by the New Zealand Banking Company at Russell followed a few months later by the Union Bank of Australia in Wellington. Banks which issued notes in New Zealand were:

Between 1852 and 1856, the Colonial Bank of Issue was the only banknote issuing body. Public distrust of these notes soon led to their redemption with Union Bank notes. The discovery of gold in 1861 encouraged competing banks into New Zealand leading to a variety of note issue. By 1924 public demand for convenience in usage led to the six issuing banks agreeing a "Uniform" standard size and colour for each denomination.

From 1934 the government agency Reserve Bank of New Zealand introduced notes for 10 shillings, 1, 5 and 50 pounds. In 1940, 10 pound notes were added. Only two series of pound notes were printed. The first (1934-40) featured the portrait of Matutaera Te Pukepuke Te Paue Te Karato Te-a-Pōtatau Tāwhiao, the second (1940-67) featured Captain James Cook.

Showing who issued the New Zealand Pound and during which years.
The private trading banks that issued the NZ Pound between 1840 and 1970

Present status

Coins and uncancelled notes issued by the six private trading banks operating in 1934 as well as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand are still redeemable at the RBNZ offices in Wellington. The RBNZ has an obligation to redeem private bank notes. Under the 1933 Reserve Bank Act the privately held gold was confiscated and paid for in RBNZ banknotes.

In all cases, the currency's value to collectors is now far higher than its face value, due to its rarity. A prime example is a first issue Union Bank £1 from the 1840s returned to New Zealand in 1934, for redemption at face value, by its owner in the United States. Today a similar note would be valued in excess of £10,000 sterling. 50 pound notes of the Reserve Bank are also extremely rare and fetch a high price from collectors. The note signed by Chief Cashier T.P Hannah in uncirculated condition could fetch as high as NZ$25,000 according to the premier value listing for New Zealand notes and coins (Some other lesser valued notes signed by Hannah exist).


  • Krause, Chester L. and Clifford Mishler (1991). Standard Catalog of World Coins: 1801–1991 (18th ed. ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0873411501. 
  • Pick, Albert (1994). Standard Catalog of World Paper Money: General Issues. Colin R. Bruce II and Neil Shafer (editors) (7th ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87341-207-9. 
  • Hawke, G.R., "The Making of New Zealand: an Economic History" (1985)
  • Grant. Anthony W., "Premier: the New Zealand Coin and Banknote Catalogue" 2011

External links

Preceded by:
No modern predecessor
Currency of New Zealand
1840 – 9 July 1967
Succeeded by:
New Zealand dollar
Reason: decimalisation
Ratio: 2 dollars = 1 pound

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