New Zealand Dollars

New Zealand Dollars

New Zealand Dollars

The New Zealand dollar is the official currency of New Zealand. It was introduced in 1967, replacing the New Zealand pound. It is also informally known as the kiwi, the indigenous bird for which the country is famous, and which is also featured on the New Zealand $1 coin.
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The introduction of the New Zealand dollar was linked to the decision to decimalise the official currency. The previously issued New Zealand pound was based on the old British £sd system, where the pound was divided into twenty shillings (s), which were then subdivided into 12 pennies (d). The United Kingdom also converted from this antiquated system shortly afterwards in 1971. The new dollar was introduced at a new value of half that of the pound (2 $NZ = 1 NZ£).

The decision to also change the name of the currency from the pound to the dollar was a clear representation of the desire to break the apron strings and emphasise the independence of the New Zealand from its former colonial masters. New Zealand had effectively become an independent nation in 1907, when the new nation was peacefully re-designated as a “Dominion”, equal in status to two other former British colonies, its near neighbour Australia, and Canada. The succeeding years had seen New Zealand remain an enthusiastic member of the British Empire, contributing many troops to the war efforts in both World Wars, and relying on the Royal Navy and the United States military to protect its islands from the prospect of Japanese invasion in World War Two.

As the British Empire faded, and was superseded by the more informal links of the British Commonwealth, New Zealand remained a loyal member, but geographical realities meant that a further drifting apart was inevitable. The advent of the new dollar currency was an indication of this, but the process was further accelerated by the United Kingdom’s decision to join the European Economic Community (EEC, now EU) in 1973. The resulting introduction of trade tariffs had a serious effect on the New Zealand economy. New trade links had to be forged, as it was effectively priced out of the UK and European markets it had previously relied upon. New Zealand was forced to re-evaluate its position in the world, and trade links to Australia and its closer neighbours in south east Asia were forged.

Nevertheless, links to the old country have endured, and the relationship between the United Kingdom and New Zealand has remained close and warm. The Kiwis remain enthusiastic members of the British Commonwealth. This continued enthusiasm was confirmed and emphasised when early in 2016, the New Zealanders decided in a national referendum to retain the Union Jack as a part of their national flag. An alternative design, featuring four red stars (symbolising the constellation of the Southern Cross), a fern (a national symbol) and a blue / black background was rejected by a considerable margin. The existing design, featuring the UK flag and the Southern Cross against a blue background, was favoured.

With these continuing links to the previous colonial homelands, it is likely that a few New Zealand dollars do arrive as payments in UK registered online bingo accounts. No doubt the British love for bingo has endured in the land of our antipodean cousins, resulting in a real enthusiasm for the traditional game.

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