Prior to the introduction of the New Zealand dollar in 1967, the New Zealand pound was the currency of New Zealand, which had been distinct from the pound sterling since 1933. The pound used the £sd system, in which the pound was divided into 20 shillings and one shilling was divided into 12 pence, which by the 1950s was considered complicated and cumbersome.
Switching to decimal currency had been proposed in New Zealand since the 1930s, although only in the 1950s did any plans come to fruition. In 1957, a committee was set up by the Government to investigate decimal currency. The idea fell on fertile ground, and in 1963, the Government decided to decimalise New Zealand currency.
The Decimal Currency Act was passed in 1964, setting the date of transition to 10 July 1967. Words such as "kiwi" and "zeal" were proposed to avoid confusion with the word "dollar", which many people at the time associated with the United States dollar. In the end, the word "dollar" was chosen anyway, and an anthropomorphic dollar note cartoon character called "Mr. Dollar" became the symbol of transition in a huge publicity campaign.
The Decimal Currency Act prescribed the designs, diameters, and standard weights of the decimal coins. The reverses of the new decimal coins were all designed by Reginald George James Berry (known as James) of Wellington. The obverse design was by Arnold Machin (later superseded by other effigies of Her majesty).
On Monday 10 July 1967 ("Decimal Currency Day"), the New Zealand dollar was introduced to replace the pound at a rate of two dollars to one pound (one dollar to ten shillings, ten cents to one shilling, 5⁄6 cent to a penny). Some 27 million new banknotes were printed and 165 million new coins were minted for the changeover.