Series description – F3 and F4
Since 10 July 1967, the currency in circulation in New Zealand is New Zealand dollars (NZ$) and cents. Initially, the bank notes in circulation were $1 (one dollar), $2 (two dollar), $5 (five dollar), $10 (ten dollar), $20 (twenty dollar), and $100 (one hundred dollar). The $50 (fifty dollar) note was introduced in 1983 and the $1 and $2 notes were replaced with coins in 1991.
Bank notes in the hands of the public represent all notes held outside the Reserve Bank vaults.
Prior to 10 July 1967, the currency in circulation in New Zealand was L.S.D. (pounds, shillings and pence). The notes, immediately prior to the introduction of the above decimal currency, were 10/- (ten shilling), ₤1 (one pound), ₤5 (five pound), ₤10 (ten pound), and ₤50 (fifty pound).
The virtue of cash - that you can buy or sell something instantly and conveniently - comes from the concept of legal tender. Technically, legal tender means that if I owe you money and I present you with cash, then the debt is cleared then and there. The only exception to this is if we both agree to a different form of payment beforehand. So, for example, a shop doesn't have to accept a cheque, and it doesn't even have to accept cash, but the shop has to clearly indicate to you before you do business with them that they do not accept these forms of payment.
There is a minor qualification to this, in that the law specifies limits on using annoying amounts of coins as legal tender for buying larger items. If I owe you, say, $1000, I can't present you with $1000 worth of 10 cent coins and require you to accept them as legal tender.
Reserve Bank notes and coins are defined in Section 27 of The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989, as “legal tender”. The Reserve Bank is the only organisation in New Zealand that can issue bank notes and coins and determine the denominations and design of the nation's currency.
The figures for each year represent the face value of and number of coin orders placed with coin manufacturers or mints. Coins do not necessarily go into circulation in the same year they are minted. Some mint coin remains in the vaults of the Reserve Bank, to be available for circulation upon demand. The Decimal Currency Act, 1964 laid out the migration to a decimalized system of currency. Decimal coins first appeared in circulation on 10 July 1967. On 31 March 1989, the issue of 1 and 2 cent pieces ceased. Both coins were demonetised on 30 April 1990. On 11 February 1991, new $1 and $2 coins were introduced to replace the $1 and $2 notes. On 31 July 2006, the issue of 5 cent pieces ceased. The coin was demonetised on 1 November 2006.