New Zealand
$10 Millennium Issue
Commemorative Issue: Ten Dollars. 2000
Commemorative Issue: Ten Dollars. 2000.

Background: On 5 February, 1999 the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) announced that a newly designed, special note would be issued later in the year to commemorate the new millennium. It would be polymer.

The Currency Department Chief Manager advised that RBNZ "will be releasing up to 3,000,000 bank notes into general circulation, so that members of the public can keep these notes as millennium souvenirs if they wish. In addition, there will be special collector's packs available."

The note was designed by Cue Design Limited, a Wellington firm and incorporates new technology security features to be tested for possible use in other polymer notes. At this stage, for security reasons, design details were not released. It was only in late 1998, that RBNZ decided to issue a special note to test some of these design element so things did move quite quickly.

New Zealand would be the first country to welcome the new Millennium (regardless as to whether one believed the third millennium commenced with the romantic date of 1 January, 2000 or the arithmetically correct date of 1 January, 2001). There were obvious marketing opportunities and RBNZ teamed up with a Singapore numismatic promotion firm, MoneyWorld Asia, to market the note domestically and internationally. American Express offices in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington also acted as outlets for the note.

It was first released as a collector's edition on 11 November, 1999 and of course sold at a premium. There were differences between this issue and the circulating note which did not make an appearance until 2 August, 2000. Release of the circulating note caused some comment amongst the numismatic community. It was expected much earlier than August (as early as February 2000) indeed when the design was unveiled on 15 September 1999, RBNZ indicated that the " circulating notes will be available early next year". Given the "delay", the feeling was that the collector's edition was not as successful as expected and the release of the circulating variety was delayed to allow further time for sales.

The differences between the two varieties are:

Collector's Edition - red serial numbers all with prefix "NZ" and a stylised RBNZ Coat of Arms appears on the front of the note between the prow of the Maori canoe and the clear window.

Issued Variety: 7nbsp; - black serial number commencing with AA prefix and progressing through to CI. There is no Coat of Arms of RBNZ depicted.

This millennium issue was not intended to replace the regular "Kate Sheppard" $10 but rather to complement it. It is understood that RBNZ commenced actively withdrawing it from circulation in mid 2002.

$10 - P190- Front
$10 - P190- Front
$10 - P190- Back
$10 - P190- Back

With a design totally different to the regularly circulating series, this commemorative note was intended to reflect on the wealth of culture of the Maori heritage, the advanced digital age of the Third Millennium and "some of the recreational pursuits that make New Zealand special". It is a very complex note and some of the representations are a little obtuse.

A Maori war canoe (waka) is the central feature on the front of the note. This is meant to symbolise the journey which began with the arrival of the first Maori from elsewhere in the Pacific many centuries ago and which will be continued as described on the note as "the dawn of a new era lights the way for New Zealand's perpetual voyage of innovation and discovery." A map of New Zealand is superimposed over a map of the world which represents the country's trade links and at the far right is a satellite dish typifying technological links. A white star burst over a sun like image immediately to the right of the North Island symbolises "first to the future".

A pearlised Paua Shell pattern is located at the bottom left of the note which symbolises New Zealand's Pacific origins and at top left is the Maori pattern of Aoraki, or Mt Cook, the country's highest mountain. Additionally, a series of digital numbers, a repetition of "01" in 10 lines along the top of the note is meant to represent the digital age into which the new millennium is taking us. Of course these numbers are the binary numbers of the powerful binary counting system which forms the basis of the most widely used computer programming languages.

A major feature on the back of the note is the hammerhead shark (Ko te Mango Pare) which for the Maori symbolises bravery, endurance, power and strength. The design of the shark transposes into a representation of the Pacific Ocean with components of the body portraying various islands of the Pacific. The centre of the head represents Easter Island, the heart Samoa, the right eye, Hawaii and the left eye, New Zealand (Aotearoa - "Land of the Long White Cloud"). There are 6 wave like curls (korus) and these represent the 6 generations which have passed since the Treaty of Waitangi of 1840 between the white man and the Maori.

Two children in the centre of the note represent the New Zealand lifestyle and the future. Mount Cook features prominently in the background and the recreational pursuits of surf-boarding , skiing, kayaking and sky diving are depicted.

Again the paerlised Paua Shell pattern is included (almost a mirror image of the one on the front) and a larger map of New Zealand superimposed on a "Pacific vortex" is shown.

As well as the legal tender clause and denomination, the note carries the wording "commemorating the new millennium" on both sides. The Maori elements were designed by Te Warihi (Wallace) Kokowai Hetaraka, a leading artist, carver, authority on Maori culture, history and spirituality.

Security Features:Those discrete to this note include:

(a) A clear window at bottom right incorporating two silver ferns placed so as to approximate a circle. This is a Diffraction Optically Variable Device (DOVD) made of de-metalised aluminium coating. Viewed from both sides of the note, these ferns reflect rainbow patterns when tilted to the light. Under magnification, the DOVD exhibits small silver images and the text "NZ 2000".
(b) A Maori spiral design (which represents growth and new life) below the vertical serial number on the front of the note which forms a perfect registration with a spiral on the back.
(c) Micro-printing of "10NZ"in 7 or 9 lines in the panel either side of the canoe on the front of the note and in 7 or 12 lines in the centre panel underneath the board rider on the back of the note.
(d) When the note is held to the light a shadow image (equivalent to the watermark of paper notes ) of Te Upoko or head which to the Maori represents ancestral figures and is held in great reverence. Te Upoko appears in the "0" of the denomination numeral "10". It can be seen from both sides of the note when angled to the light. (e) This is understood to be the first polymer note to include a security device known as Screen Angle Modulation (SAM). SAM changes certain visual images by the use of a filter and digitised tone and line images.
(f) A horizontal serial number at top right and a matching vertical black serial number at top left. Serial numbers are in black for the issued version and in red for the packaged type.
(g) Multi-coloured fine line drawings on both sides of the note.
(h) When exposed to ultra-violet light, several fluorescing features become apparent. The numeral "10" in a box in the bottom left of the front of the note fluoresces, both serial numbers fluoresce ( it seems less pronounced for the issued, black serial numbered note), the RBNZ coat of arms fluoresces (packaged note only) and an otherwise concealed shell in a square over the "star burst design" fluoresces vividly in the top centre of the note. All these features relate to the front of the note.

The DOVD and the SAM are the security features which the RBNZ earlier announced were being trialed in this note issue.

First and Last Prefixes:
Issued Note:AA 00 to CI 00.
Packaged Note:NZ 00.

Differences Between the Issued and Packaged Versions: $10 Millennium Commemorative - Packaged variety - Front - P190b
 />$10 Millennium Commemorative - Packaged variety -  Front -  P190b

An error note with mismatched serial numbers is shown.

The differences between the two varieties are:

Collector's Edition - red serial numbers all with prefix "NZ" and a stylised RBNZ Coat of Arms on the front of the note between the prow of the Maori canoe and the clear window.

Issued Variety:   - black serial number commencing with AA and progressing through to CI. There is no Coat of Arms of RBNZ depicted.

Numbers Printed:

The prefix range for the 2000 dated circulating issue is AA to AM; BA to BM; CA to CI. All intermediate letters are used, thus this represents 35 prefixes ie 35 notes per sheet. It is rather curious that this $10 was produced in sheets of 35 notes as the regularly circulating note of the same size was printed in sheets of 40 notes.

RBNZ advises that for each prefix the serial number range was 000001 to 050000, thus representing 1,750,000 notes. Spoilage in the production of polymer notes historically has been quite high. As NPA has developed the process, the spoilage rate is understood to have declined. Only 1,510,000 notes were available for issue; hence the spoilage rate was approximately 14%.

Notes (1,000 - AA 00 000001 to AA 00 001000) were printed for the 2000 dated packaged note sets issued annually by RBNZ ie the $5, 10, 20, 50 & 100 regularly circulating notes. For 2000, a sixth note was included in the sets. These notes are included in the above numbers.

With the 500,000 packaged "red serial number" notes (see below) and the 1,510,000 general issue notes, the total issue fell well short of the "up to 3,000,000" foreshadowed by RBNZ in February, 1999. When the design of this issue was unveiled on 15 September 1999, an amended production figure of 2,000,000 in total was announced by RBNZ.

Some embarrassment arose for RBNZ when the packaged "red serial numbered notes" turned up in circulation shortly after the release of the issued "black serial numbered note". After all, the Bank was selling these notes at a considerable premium over face. I understand that some 30,000 notes were released to the commercial banks. They were quickly recalled.


500,000 of the red serial number packaged note were released; 150,000 were reserved for New Zealand collectors and the balance were marketed internationally by MoneyWorld Asia. They were released in two types of folders a cheque book style folder and a square type folder.

This dual pack approach is a format similar to that used by the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore, for the marketing of a paper commemorative $25 banknote in 1996 on the 25th anniversary of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Thus the influence of MoneyWorld Asia in the marketing is apparent.

The bulk of these were single notes however it is thought possibly as many as 50,000 uncut pairs (100,000 notes) and 5,000 uncut sheets of 20 notes per sheet (100,000 notes) were made available to collectors. Hence about 300,000 single notes were available. The information seems a little rubbery on these points as there is some conflict from different sources. Therefore the figures should be used cautiously. The single notes, uncut pairs and uncut sheets were released on 11 November, 1999; they became available through American Express offices on 15 November, 1999.

Collectors were also given the opportunity to acquire uncut sheets of 35 notes per sheet of the issued note. Whilst the issued note was not released until 2 August 2000, 150 sheets (5,250 notes) were available from 1 May 2000. RBNZ reserved 50 sheets for distribution and MoneyWorld Asia held the balance.

No explanation has been given as to why the red serial number packaged note was available in sheets of 20 notes whereas the black serial number issued note came in sheets of 35 notes.

Catalogue No:SCWPM P190a (issued note).
SCWPM P190b (packaged note)
SCWPM P CS190a (packaged note)
SCWPM P CS190b (uncut pair in folder-NZ prefix)
SCWPM P CA190c ( uncut sheet of 20 notes-NZ prefix)

SCWPM is confusing. It gives the NZ prefix packaged note two catalogue numbers (P190b and PCS190b). It does not mention the uncut sheet of 35 notes of the issued variety.

Precise Date of Issue:Issued note: 2 August 2000.
Packaged note: 11 November 1999.
Numbers Issued:Refer "Numbers Printed" above.
Prefix Range: Refer " Numbers Printed" above.
Signature:Governor of Bank Dr Donald Thomas Brash.
(1 September, 1988 to 26 April, 2002.)
Colour:Dark blue with yellow and purple.
Dimensions:140 x 68 mm. The same size as the regular issue $10.
Printer: Note Printing Australia on Guardian polymer substrate.
Specimens:No official specimens exist. Some of the promotional literature features an "AA" specimen but this is understood to be a mock-up specifically done for that purpose.
Country Ranking: New Zealand is the 11th country to issue an NPA based polymer note.
Printing Method:Intaglio
Sheet size:Issued Note: 35 notes per sheet being 5 across and 7 down.
Packaged Note: 20 notes per sheet being 5 across and 4 down.
Product:Refer "Product" above.