Sunday, July 10, 2011

Decimal Day

July 10th 1967 was a watershed for NZ.
It was Decimal Currency Day. Dollars and cents replaced pounds, shillings and pence − to be precise, 27 million new banknotes and 165 million new coins. The names kiwi or zeal had been mooted to avoid any confusion with the US dollar. But the word dollar prevailed and Mr Dollar was the advertising symbol of the change. Check out this old 1967 tv ad!
So five shillings (one crown) became 50c, two shillings (one florin, or 12 pence) became 20c, a shilling (a bob) became 10c, sixpence became 5c, threepence became 2c and a penny became one cent. The old bank notes (10/-, £1, £5, £10 and £50) became $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $100 (a $50 note was introduced in 1981).
On the day, my father returned from the Post Office Savings Bank (remember them?!) with one of every new coin and note, just to show us kids (being HUGE money then, the $100 went straight back into the bank the next day!). My neighbour Pamela however retained a large red plastic piggybank full of pennies, optimistic that they'd be worth a fortune to collectors one day. Bless!
There was a 'Dollar Scholar' saving scheme running in schools - pupils brought their small shrapnel (tucked into flaps in their 'Dollar Scholar' savings certificate) into class, and deposited the coins with a visiting Post Office representative. Hands up who still has their old orange Post Office Savings Bank book among their memorabilia somewhere? I remember being upset that my twelve pennies became only ten cents...
1990: the 1c and 2c held little value, and were phased out, with cash transactions rounded to the nearest 5c.
1991: $1 and $2 coins replaced $1 and 2 notes (by 2010, inflation had reduced a NZ dollar to less than 1/16th of its 1967 value).
2006: the 5c coin was taken out of play and new 50c, 20c and 10c coins were made smaller and lighter. The older versions are no longer legal tender, but are still redeemable at the Reserve Bank.
Ahhhhh, but will Pamela ever profit from her piggybank pennies?

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