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Early History 1840-1933 Edit

When Europeans first settled New Zealand in 1840, they brought British currency with them. As settlements grew into small towns, small business began to issue trade tokens. These tokens were made in the thousands, and used as a currency for a particular business. A combination of British currency and trade tokens were used until 1933.

Pre-Decimal Currency 1933-1967 Edit

In 1933, New Zealand began to issue its own currency. Threepence, sixpence, shillings, florins and half crowns were issued. On special occasions, (eg. Royal visits) crowns were issued. In 1940, to make up for a lack of short change, half-penny and penny coins were introduced. Silver coins (threepence, sixpence, shilling, florin and half crown) contained a silver content of 50% until 1947.

The Coin designs remained constant from 1933-1966. The half-penny (issued in 1940) showed a Tiki on the reverse, which is a traditional Maori ornament. The penny, depicted a Tui, native to New Zealand. The Threepence shows ornamented short clubs and the sixpence shows a Huia. Huia are also a native New Zealand bird and are thought to be extinct. The Shilling depicts a Maori in traditional dress wielding a Tiaha, and the florin depicts a kiwi which is yet another native New Zealand bird. The Half crown had the New Zealand coat of arms on the reverse.


Crowns Edit

Crowns were issued in 1935, 1949 and 1953. The 1935 crown is known as the "Waitangi Crown" and was supposed to be issued in 1933 to make complete sets. The 1949 crown was issued for the proposed visit of King George VI, and has a simple design consisting of a fern leaf with the stars of the southern cross. The 1953 crown commemorates the Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth.

Obverse Design Edit

From 1933-1936 New Zealand coins showed king George V. From 1937-1953 the obverse showed King George VI and didn't change until 1953. However, in 1947 the title changed from "KING EMPEROR" to "KING GEORGE THE SIXTH" when India gained its independence. Elizabeth II portrait appeared on the obverse from 1953 onwards.

Decimal Currency 1967-2006 Edit

In July 1967, New Zealand made a smooth changeover to decimal currency, with ten shillings becoming a dollar. The sixpence was replaced with five cent coins, the shilling with ten Cent coins, the florin with twenty cent coins and the half crown with fifty cent coins. Bronze one and two cent pieces were also issued. Special commemorative dollars (100 cents) were also issued to mark the change over.


In 1990, one and two dollar coins were introduced into circulation to replace the one and two dollar notes. Also, from 1990 onwards the twenty cent piece featured a new design.

Also, one and two cent pieces were last minted for circulation in 1987. A further 24,000 one and two cent peices were issued in 1988 sets. The coins were demonetized in 1990.


Designs Edit

Revision 2006-Present Edit

After research and statistics showing New Zealand coinage was one of the largest and heaviest currency's in the world, a decision to change the coins was made. The new coins would have the same designs, but with some major changes. The five cent coin was removed from circulation, as it was small; easily lost and was costing to much to manufacture. The ten cent coin was reduced in size, and made of steel with a copper plating. The twenty cent coin was also reduced in size and the milling was changed to the "Spanish flower" pattern. The fifty cent coin was greatly reduced in size. All the new coins were made with a magnetic signature, to stop foreign currency's being used in vending machines and parking metres. The one and two dollar coins remained unchanged.

Commemorative Coins Edit

Each year the New Zealand Reserve Bank issues special coins specific purpose. These coins are legal tender, but are not issued for circulation. They are often made in several variety's, Brilliant Un-circulated, Silver Proof and occasionally in gold or platinum. New Zealand post markets these coins, and they are sold to collectors at a premium. Three to five types New Zealand Commemorative Coins are available each year.

Trivia/Variety's Edit

  • The ten cent coins issued in 1967-1969 also had the words "One shilling" inscribed beneath the Maori mask.
  • Fifty cent pieces issued in 1969 have a inscribed rim.
  • It's estimated that 50,000 two cent coins minted in 1967 are known as Bahamas mule, instead of "New Zealand" they say "Bahamas Islands" on the obverse.
  • The half crowns issued in 1940 were New Zealand Centennial Half Crown and has a different reverse.

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