The historical meaning of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s Armistice Day coin

Brilliant article by Matthew Wright of RBNZ. You seldom see researchers in a central bank write history of World War-I.

This year the Reserve Bank is releasing a coloured circulating fifty cent coin to mark Armistice Day, the effective end of the First World War. This follows a similar coin issued in 2015 to mark the Gallipoli campaign. Both coins feature new-technology minting processes, and both were especially commissioned to mark these events as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s contribution to the government First World War centenary celebrations.2

This article outlines the historical meaning of the armistice and gives a particular context for the Armistice Day coin. It also describes the special design of the coin, which is one of only two coloured circulating coins issued in New Zealand.


The Armistice Day coin incorporates the official Returned and Services Association poppy, surrounded by a remembrance wreath which features the silver fern and koru. The poppy symbol has long been associated both with the First World War and with war remembrance in general. The flower grew on and around the First World War battlefields – for New Zealanders, both at Gallipoli and on the Western Front – and was generally adopted by the former Allied powers to symbolise that war during the early 1920s.33

The three silver ferns represent both past, present and future; and the three armed forces of New Zealand. The Korus pattern represents new beginnings.34 The silver fern reflects New Zealand’s national identity. A portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is on the obverse.

Two million fifty cent coins were minted, of which 1.6 million were released into general circulation.

An excellent example of how central banks go onto to explain the rationale for the new coin. Something other central banks could also end up doing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: