£1 note

Issued by the Bank of New Zealand, AD 1929

Images of the indigenous culture on a banknote

The Bank of New Zealand was a private bank, founded in 1861. Even in the later nineteenth century, it was common for banknotes of any nation to carry classical personifications and other European emblems. However, in 1870 the Bank of New Zealand anticipated modern trends by issuing notes reflecting indigenous culture, with scenes of Maoris, volcanoes and kiwi birds.

In the 1920s the bank issued this striking new design with a portrait engraved from a photograph of a Maori chief. As with the earlier vignettes, which appear on the back of the notes, this use of a portrait to convey national identity on paper currency was ahead of its time. Eleven years later the new central bank, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, wanted distinctively national features for its first notes. The Maori chief and a kiwi were chosen as the main subjects.

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More information


R.H. Griffin, Bank of New Zealand banknotes, (Bank of New Zealand, 1987)

V. Hewitt, 'A distant view: imagery and imagination in the paper currency of the British Empire, 1800-1960' in Nation-states and money (Routledge, 1999)


Length: 173.000 mm
Width: 87.000 mm

Museum number

CM 1984-6-5-849



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