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Neu New Zealand bank notes

The new designs for the New Zealand bank notes
Norway’s recent bank note redesign
Norway’s recent bank note redesign
Louise Kellerman from Design Assembly looks at the updated designs for the New Zealand bank notes, to be released in late 2015.


Louise Kellerman from Design Assembly looks at the updated designs for the New Zealand bank notes, to be released in late 2015.

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The Reserve Bank of New Zealand revealed the new designs on November 20 and stated that: “New Zealand’s banknotes are being upgraded to ensure they benefit from technical advances that have been introduced in banknote security. New notes will be introduced progressively from late 2015.

"The Reserve Bank is not making significant changes to the overall design themes of the notes themselves. This includes continuing to use the five respected individuals and the fauna and flora currently depicted on our notes. For more information about the banknotes, and to see the designs, visit the Brighter Money website.”

It is worth mentioning here (From the Brighter Money website) “Something to note: these are artistic renditions of New Zealand’s new banknotes. The Reserve Bank is completing detailed work on the public and machine-readable security features, which will help people to authenticate the new notes. For this reason, the actual banknotes will look slightly different to the ones shown here.”

Also worth noting is the cost of this exercise “It is expected to cost an extra $8M a year over the next five years to replace the old notes.” when “Counterfeit rates are low in New Zealand compared to the rest of the world” –  Why are we doing this again?

The immediate reactions from the NZ graphic design community are around wanting to know who the NZ designers involved were? (If any…) and if none, why this important piece of NZ graphic design and NZ national identity has been shipped offshore to Canada!

The Reserve Bank talk about DESIGN in the process of these new bank notes:

“Banknote design requires very specific technical knowledge in a range of areas, including aesthetics, printing techniques, security features and banknote equipment requirements. The Reserve Bank makes initial decisions about the colour, wording and sizes of each denomination based on public surveys and expert advice. Designers then draw up concept designs to incorporate the various features of the note, including the: Text, Denomination, Pictures of people, birds, plants etc., Cultural motifs such as tukutuku patterns, Security features, Serial numbering and Colours.

Once these features are agreed upon, the selected designer produces a picture of the front and back of each denomination. These pictures are produced in the correct size and colours with the aid of a computer-based design system.

These banknote designs are assessed by a range of people, including security experts, banknote equipment manufacturers and design, history and cultural experts, to ensure they enhance security, are aesthetically pleasing and reflect New Zealand’s culture and history”

Did we miss something here? An opportunity that’s for sure.

Especially when you look at Norway’s recent bank note redesign.

UPDATE: The response to my email from The Reserve Bank of New Zealand

“Hi Louise

Thanks for your email.

The Reserve Bank procured the designs (and print services) through an open tender process. No New Zealand companies tendered for the design or print work.

The design and printing of notes is an extremely technical endeavour, involving highly specialised skills to ensure a design maximises the security features available and meets the highly complex printing requirements. Technical knowledge is required in a range of areas including aesthetics, printing techniques, security features and banknote equipment requirements. This level of technical skill and experience, particularly in accommodating the most up-to-date and more complex security features, was only available offshore.

The Bank ran confidential focus groups to garner opinions on a range of possible note designs and features. Feedback received as part of focus group testing fed into the Reserve Bank’s decision making process, which also accounts for technical and security considerations. Feedback from external consultants was also factored into the decision.

The intended purpose of the new note project is to upgrade the security features of the notes, and ‘refresh’ the look taking advantage of improved printing technology rather than to ‘redesign’ the notes completely. This decision was made on the basis of the RBNZ’s Banknote Survey 2010, which found the public were largely happy with the existing note design. These findings were reconfirmed in a more recent Banknote Survey, which is due to be released in the coming months.

We also expect to publish a Reserve Bank Bulletin article in the coming months explaining the design and printing process in more detail.”

“With regards to your question about the tender process: The Reserve Bank issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the Government Electronic Tender Service (GETS). We sent the RFI documents to anyone who requested them. Only respondents to the RFI were invited to the Request for Tender. No New Zealand companies/designers chose to submit a tender.”

Written by

Design Assembly

24 Nov 2014

Interests Design Assembly serves the New Zealand Graphic Design community by enabling the sharing of relevant ideas, information and inspiration. We want to strengthen the graphic design community in New Zealand.