New Banknotes in New Zealand

In May this year, New Zealand’s new $20, $50 and $100 notes were introduced into circulation by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. These beautiful new notes highlight some of the New Zealand native birds at risk from predators like possums, stoats and rats. Fortunately the New Zealand Department of Conservation and various community groups and trusts are working to help protect these special birds. Hopefully featuring them on the new banknotes will also highlight the risk facing these vulnerable birds, and contribute to the protective efforts already in place.



The New $20 Banknote. Image: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

One of New Zealand’s fastest birds can be found on the new $20 banknote: the kārearea or New Zealand falcon. The bird can reach speeds of over 100 km/h and catch prey larger than itself. This species is at-risk and it is estimated only 5,000 to 8,000 birds remain. Community groups including the Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust and Marlborough Falcon Conservation Trust are working to ensure the survival of this special bird. Also to be seen on the new $20 note is the Marlborough rock daisy which appears in front of Tapuae-o-Uenuku, the highest peak in the northeast of New Zealand’s South Island. (You can find this daisy on the Kaikoura coast, where it can be seen growing off many of the steep rocky bluffs.)



The new $50 Banknote. Image: Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

The new New Zealand $50 banknote is the only note in the world to feature fungi (the blue mushroom, known as werewere-kōkako in māori.)

The kōkako (the native bird also featured on this banknote) are another bird species at-risk, specially known for the clarity and volume of their song which carries far across the forest. (In the mid 1990s the New Zealand Department of Conservation and the Auckland Regional Council started a joint project to protect the remaining 21 North Island kōkako in the Hunua Ranges. The population has grown slowly with the protection of nests from predators, close monitoring of nesting birds and trans-locations. A census in 2015 found 55 kōkako pairs!)



The new $100 Banknote. Image: Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

The new $100 banknote features the South Island lichen moth, mohua and Eglinton Valley in Fiordland National Park.

The South Island lichen moth (also known as the zebra moth) is known for its unique colouration and camouflage techniques within Fiordland beech forests. The mohua (also known as the yellowed) is a small bird found only in the southern half of New Zealand. It nests in tree holes, which make it highly vulnerable to predators like possums, stoats and rats.  A predator plague in 2000 drove the last mohua out of the Marlborough Sounds and caused population crashes in many areas of the South Island. DOC’s battle for our birds programme this year aims to give birds such as the mohua another chance at survival through pest control operations.


For more detailed information on all of the new New Zealand banknotes, as well as the new $5 and $10 notes issued in October 2015, check out the following site:

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