Reserve Bank of New Zealand Coat of Arms Letters Patent, 1965


Reserve Bank of New Zealand Coat of Arms Letters Patent, 1965

About this object

The Reserve Bank’s Coat of Arms was granted at the initiative of the Governor of the day, E.C. Fussell, who began formal procedures with the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom in November 1960. Various designs were discussed. A warrant was issued on 24 October 1961 and Letters Patent affixed on 1 June 1965. The Letters Patent have been framed and are on display in the Reserve Bank Museum.

Symbolism of the Coat of Arms:
At the top of the coat of arms a demi-griffin holding a portcullis is depicted. This is a traditional heraldic symbol for a guardian of treasure. The shield is supported by two lions, which have collars from which keys are suspended. The Bank’s security function is again emphasised by the crossed keys of the shield.
The Maori head represents King Tawhiao (1825?-1894).
King Tawhiao’s profile first appeared on early Bank of New Zealand bank notes, was then included on the first issue of Reserve Bank of New Zealand bank notes in 1934, and was part of the watermark in bank notes on issue prior to the change to Decimal Currency in July 1967.
The small bull’s head signifies the beef and dairy industries; the fleece, the meat and wool industries; and the ship, the shipping industry on which New Zealand depends for most exports and imports.
The motto ‘Securitas et Vigilantia’ emphasises the position of the Reserve Bank as a guardian of New Zealand’s financial system.
As well as the Letters Patent, there are also two large-scale metal versions of the crest on display: one is mounted in the Museum (taken from the Reserve Bank building in Christchurch when it was closed in 2000), and the other is mounted on the far wall in the Bank's foyer.


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