Simplest system adopted

June 9 and July 10, 1967

Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012

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For one New Zealander, the change to dollars and cents marks the realization of a 30-year campaign.

The nation's acknowledged "father of decimal currency," Mr H.G.R. Mason, first began pushing his private members Currency Bill in Parliament in the early 1930s.

He is particularly gratified that the Government disregarded several complicated suggested decimal systems.

"The system we've adopted is by far the simplest," he said yesterday.

"By retaining the one shilling feature we have given the housewife the best possible guide to currency conversion."

Mr Mason predicted Britain would have a difficult changeover in 1971.

"The English duo-decimal system loses touch with the old currency, and the public will become terribly confused," he said.

Banks last night appealed to the public not to make unnecessary transactions today.

"The last thing we want is people coming in to change money just to see what the new currency looks like," said one bank spokesman.

The chairman of the Decimal Currency Board, Mr S. L Moses, said there was no need to go to banks to exchange pounds, shilling and pence for dollars and cents.

"No change is made without some inconvenience," he said.

"However, people will find the change much easier by using the twin values as stepping stones."

People could get right through the changeover by offering a little more and getting the right change, he said.

Mr Moses urged people not to confuse the purpose of conversion tables.

They were simply a way to convert whole penny values to whole cent values.

"Conversion tables do not meant a penny and cent are equal," he said.

"A penny is actually worth less than a cent."

Mr Moses said the board had done everything to make the transition as quick as possible.

"I'll be surprised if we haven't managed to complete the changeover by about this time next year," he said.

Currency switch to decimals
Everything ready for big change today

July 10, 1967: New Zealand switched soundlessly to decimal currency at midnight last night.

Dollars and cents became coin of the real without any coincident devaluation of the new currency against Sterling.

Some sources had predicted such a move because of the chronic and acute balance-of-payments difficulties facing the Dominion.

Last night; only hours before the carefully stored and distributed new bills and coins officially became money, the Minister of Finance, Mr Muldoon, again ridiculed reports of devaluation today.

"We do not propose to devalue the New Zealand pound-or dollar," he declared.

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Four years in preparation, the New Zealand changeover has left only a handful of territories still using pounds, shilling and pence.

Most of them are planning the transition to dollars and cents soon.

Britain, Eire, Fiji and Zambia have official delegations in Wellington to study the switch in the Dominion.

The Bank of England and the London clearing banks have also sent representatives.

For New Zealanders, DC Day today is only the start.

The transition period, tied largely to machine conversion programmes, was originally set at 18 months, but has since been sliced to 15 months.

Decimal Currency Board staff suspect that it can and will be in fact, be completed in about 12 months.

Most of the old notes should disappear from common circulation within six weeks, although they will continue as legal tender indefinitely.

Only last week, Wellington trading banks were recovering and honouring notes they themselves had issued in 1933, before the advent of the Reserve Bank.

Halfpennies, pennies and threepences - for which there are no exact decimal coin counterparts - will begin to be withdrawn from today.

If should be strange for shoppers to encounter them in any dollar zone after three months.

Sixpences, shillings and florins, which have precise decimal equivalents will continue to circulate indefinitely.

After a four-day closure for conversion trading banks reopen at 10 o'clock this morning and may encounter a rush of cheque-cashers.

But authorities are confident that the first day of trading in dollars and cents will produce no major problems.

In public speeches, radio and television appearances and handout statements at the weekend the Prime Minister Mr Holyoake, and Mr Muldoon:

* Reported that everything was ready for the change

* Pleased for individual patience, tolerance and calm and helpfulness in initial transactions.

* Predicted that price conversions would prove "no worry".

* Reaffirmed that the State would investigate any incorrect conversion referred to it.

- The Southland Times

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