5 Jul 2017

Sound Archives: 50 years of decimal currency

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:41 pm on 5 July 2017

It is the 50th anniversary of NZ adopting decimal currency this week.  We switched over to decimal currency on the 10th of July 1967.

There was a lot of debate around what to call the new currency - some suggested names included the 'crown', the 'fern', the 'tūi', the 'Kiwi' and the 'Zeal'. But in the end, we settled on the 'dollar' - as did Australia who had switched to decimal the previous year.

Sarah Johnston from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision plays us some recordings from 50 years ago, when radio and television were being used to get us used to the idea of a whole new currency.

Some of your feedback

There was of course more to decimal conversion than just money.  There were weights and measures too and for speedometers you could get a stick-on that showed the new Km per hour.

With that in mind, I remember in the early 70s on Chch TV (Town and Around? The South Tonight? I can't recall) they did a piece on 'don't forget that from tomorrow we are converting to decimal time and so if you caught the bus this morning at 8.10am then tomorrow be early cos it will now be 7.34am" ... or something similar.  "And if you haven't already received your 10 hour sticker for your clock you can pick one up from the Post Office."

It was hysterical, especially the panic caused to the gullible.

Cheers, Beth


I remember when decimal currency was introduced, I was 14 years old and the thing that struck me the most was the flat deck trucks that pull outside the banks with a police guard sometimes solders and start unloading the new money straight into the bank

It was taken for granted that nobody would rob the trucks. My Uncle ended up with a lot of ammo boxes and the notes came in good size crates just the thing to take camping in the caravan to store all the odds and ends.




I was 10 when decimal currency came in.  I distinctly remember getting quite upset when I bought my first 5 cent mixture from the dairy.

I can’t remember how many lollies you got for a penny back then, but let’s say 5 – so for 6 pence you got 30 lollies.

Come the day 6 pence became 5 cents – but you still only got 5 lollies for a cent – so the lolly bag only had 25 lollies in it! I was not happy!




Hi Jesse,

I remember the jingle - strange how something from so long ago is RIGHT there, a few days ago, not so clear ......

I worked in the Post Office Savings Bank at that time. We had many elderly customers who asked us to write their balances in their passbooks in pounds, shillings and pence as well as dollars. It was a very difficult time for them.

Jenni L


NB, Canada

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