Sir Edmund Hillary's daughter applauds 'beautiful' new NZ banknotes

Last updated 12:12 01/09/2015

The Reserve Bank show off the New New Zealand bank note which will start circulating in October.

NZ's new $5 note.
The new bank notes have better security feaures, the RB says.

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Sir Edmund Hillary's daughter has given the clearer picture of her father on the new $5 note a big thumbs up.

Sarah Hillary described the new banknotes, unveiled on Tuesday by the Reserve Bank, as "beautiful".

The new $5 note features a more photo-realistic picture of Sir Ed that Sarah Hillary described as "an improvement" over the current note.

She applauded the notes' design and their clarity and colourfulness.

The Reserve Bank said new "brighter" $5 and $10 notes would enter circulation within weeks.

The remaining $20, $50, and $100 banknotes in the new series will be released from April 2016.

While the notes have similar themes to the existing issue, they are noticeably brighter and will include more Maori design.

They will also have Te Putea Matua - the Maori name for the central bank - printed on them for the first time.

New security features include a colour-changing bird, a holographic window and a puzzle number - coloured irregular shapes on the front and the back, which combine like puzzle pieces to show the note's denomination.

"The polymer notes are striking in their design and innovative in their security with the transparent holographic window and colour-changing bird a world first," Governor Graeme Wheeler said.

The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister John Key, who said it was a day for "sparkly new things" as only an hour later the final four possible new flag designs would be released.

Key hinted he wanted a free sample, saying he spent much of his time travelling the country opening new things, and it was customary for him to be given a gift.

"If I go to a winery, it's a bottle of wine or whatever. I don't know if it fits completely within the rules if I take a bag full of money when I leave but if you feel the need I'll chuck it in my [entry to the] pecuniary interest [register] and we'll see how well it gets reported later on."

Deputy governor Geoff Bascand, who was in charge of the new banknote project, said that New Zealand's counterfeit rate was low by international standards - estimated to be less than five notes out of every million, it was important to "stay ahead of the curve" to maintain confidence.

"If you lose trust in your currency then it would be a serious issue," Bascand said.

"Over time banknotes become easier to counterfeit. Technology sort of evolves and these days you can actually in a sense put a banknote in a scanner.

"We're upgrading for modern technology fit for the next 10 or 15 years."

Despite increasing use of electronic payments, use of cash was still growing "rapidly", Bascand said, possibly on the back of a strong tourism sector.

Despite this Bascand conceded it was possible that the latest banknotes could be the last.

"It's possible, people are talking, speculating about becoming a cashless society, but we haven't seen it yet ... one day that's a possibility."

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Some countries are already moving away from cash.

Some shops in Denmark will not be legally obliged to accept cash from 2016 under a proposal put forward by the Danish government in May.

The proposal sparked speculation the country could become the world's first "cashless nation".  

Nearly a third of Danes use a smartphone app called MobilePay to transfer money to other people and to pay for goods in stores.

Under the proposal, clothes shops, petrol stations and restaurants would not need to accept cash. Financial institution lobbyist Finansraadet said going cashless would save shops money.

The contract to design and print the notes was won by the Canadian Bank Note Company.

While the total cost of procurement was put at $80 million over five year, Bascand said the Reserve Bank would have spent about $40m of that printing old notes.

No New Zealand companies had entered the tender for the new notes, Bascand said.

The results were "gorgeous [we are] very happy with what they've done."

The $5 and $10 notes will begin being issued to banks in mid-October, while the other denominations will be issued from April 2016.

As the banks began returning the old notes to the bank they would be replaced. While the notes which are used in money machines tend to circulate quickly, smaller notes may remain commonplace for at least two years.

"The [$5 notes] tend to circulate around between households and retailers and possibly not back to the banks. They may take a while" to leave circulation.

The notes are featured on the Reserve Bank's interactive site

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