A license to print money

Bank of New Zealand was authorised to issue bank notes by the New Zealand Bank Act of 1861. The number of notes in use was limited by the amount of coin bullion and public securities held by the bank within the colony.

Printing our own money was an expensive, time consuming job. The notes were signed by the manager at the branch and countersigned by the accountant. This ink had to be left to dry naturally – blotting paper was not allowed. The replacement of private bank notes by Reserve Bank notes in 1934 was welcomed with enthusiasm.

With the exception of Falconer Larkworthy’s home-made notes, the first notes issued officially by Bank of New Zealand were produced in Sydney by W. Moffitt. As suggested by their plain design, these £1 and £5 notes were printed to fill the gap until permanent notes were received from London.

The third issue of notes, announced in 1870, shows two Maori men. In the original design the one standing had bare legs. This detail was changed, because it was considered more decent for him to wear trousers. 

See learning resources related to this story.  

Banknote 1870 50pound

BNZ £50 bank note Issue 3, 1870

1 note 1st Issue

BNZ £1 bank note, Issue 1, 1862