New Zealand could win back-to-back ‘Banknote of the Year’ awards

New Zealand’s latest $50 banknote—a polymer issue designed and printed by Canadian Bank Note Company in Ottawa—has been nominated for the 2016 Banknote of the Year by the International Bank Note Society (IBNS).

The annual honour recognizes outstanding achievement in the design, technical sophistication and security of a banknote or banknote series.

New Zealand’s $50 note, which is purple, orange, and brown, has been in circulation since last May. It depicts the Porourangi Maori building in Waiomatatini Marae and Sir Apirana Ngata alongside a tukutuku pattern on the obverse. The reverse shows blue mushrooms, the Pureora Forest, a blue-wattled kokako and ferns.

The $50 bill (reverse shown) entered circulation last May.

The new bill was introduced alongside New Zealand’s latest $20 and $100 notes.

Last year, New Zealand’s $5 note was awarded the 2015 IBNS Banknote of the Year award.

Nominations for the award are accepted until Jan. 31. The winner is decided by a vote of the IBNS board and will be announced in April at the the first IBNS meeting of 2017.

In 2004, Canada’s $20 banknote was named the Banknote of the Year.


Canada most recently won the 2004 Banknote of the Year award for its $20 note of the Journey series. It followed the Birds of Canada series. The first note to enter circulation was the $10 bill in January 2001; the final note of the series was issued in November 2004.

The Journey series’ $20 banknote depicts a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and artwork by Bill Reid on the reverse. Reid’s artwork is inspired by the Haida culture of the northwest coast of Canada.

“The portrait used on the award-winning design of the 20-dollar note is probably the finest portrait of the mature monarch to appear on any banknote, and the quality of the portrait is one of the reasons the note was well regarded by the judges,” reads the IBNS website. “Significantly, the 20-dollar note also carries the most modern security features, with an advanced holographic stripe, a high quality watermark, a colour-shifting security thread, and highly-developed fluorescent features, amongst other lesser features.”

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