A private group (Chatham Islands Note Corporation) has produced propaganda "bank notes" on plastic material. There are claims that these products have been used in actual transactions on the Chatham Islands—while this may be true, in absence of any credible reports, we believe that such use has been limited. These products have no legal tender value and have not been endorsed by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand or by any other monetary institution, although some newspaper articles would erroneously suggest otherwise. The term that appears on the products is "negotiable tender", which, of course, does not make any sense, as virtually anything can be called a negotiable tender. As the Reserve Bank of New Zealand points out in their press release (see below), these "bank notes" hold the same status as monopoly play money or sea shells. The RBNZ has shut down the Chatham Islands Note Corporation's website.
Several different types of "bank notes" have been printed. For an overview of these prints, visit Resources / Promotional prints / Chatham Islands Note Corporation.
RBNZ News Release: Chatham Islands "Dollars" not legal tender
Reserve Bank of New Zealand
The Reserve Bank today reminded those marketing so-called Chatham Islands dollars that they are not legal tender. Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Murray Sherwin said: “These so-called Chatham Island dollars are harmless as a promotional gimmick and as a bit of fun. Also, if people want to use them to undertake transactions, that’s fine too, just as one can pay for a service with monopoly play money, sea shells, or bottles of beer, if the seller is happy to receive them.
“But the law does not permit anyone, aside from the Reserve Bank, to issue bank notes or anything claiming to be legal tender. The Reserve Bank some time ago indicated to the group producing the Chatham Islands notes that, so long as they didn’t pretend to be issuing legal tender, that was fine. Indeed, the actual notes do not resemble New Zealand’s currency and thus they have the same status as ‘monopoly play money, sea shells or bottles of beer’.
“However, since then in one reported statement these Chatham Island dollars have been called “legal tender” by one of the people marketing them. I’m sure this was an accidental slip of the tongue, or incorrect reporting, but I will be writing to the group just to remind them of the law in this area.
“In practical terms, a person selling goods or services is obliged to accept legal tender as payment. Nobody on the Chatham Islands or anywhere else is in any way obliged to accept Chatham Islands dollars as payment for anything,” Mr Sherwin concluded.
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Corporate Affairs Manager
Phone 04 471 3671, home 04 938 8177, pager 026 105 085