New Zealand is known for being a beautiful and distant country with very few people. Scientists claims is it one of the last places on earth that humans inhabited. Like Australia, its people are also known for being very independent and rugged surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna, and you can see that represented on its banknotes. The most obvious example is the latest series $5 New Zealand dollar. This polymer banknote has Sir Edmund Hillary on a backdrop of Mount Everest. He is led the first expedition documented to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The portrait is unusual because it is not based on a calm sitting or a more stoic image. Hillary is shown with a wide smile, squinting eyes and deep wrinkles typical of someone who spent most of their lives outside. Most of their other banknotes have bright birds, trees, surfers or other cultural images common to a tropical island. Queen Elizabeth II has been on their paper-based and polymer banknotes since 1967. She graced the obverse of all denominations until 1990.
Since then she has only been on the New Zealand twenty dollar banknote. The representations of the Queen in some of the series of banknotes is surprising. Surprising in that they are not complementary to the Queen’s beauty. The 1981 portrait makes her nose look much bigger that similar engravings from the same picture. The 1992 $20 gives the Queen a protruding chin, big teeth and the look of a five o’clock shadow. New Zealand finally released in 2016 a banknote with a portrait of the Queen that is regal, beautiful and accurate. As bad as the 1981 and 1992 portraits are, the 2016 portrait of the Queen makes up for it. The image is engraved from an official portrait in 2011, commissioned to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The photograph of Her Majesty shows her wearing her New Zealand honors. The photograph was taken by London-based photographer, Julian Calder, in the Blue Room of Buckingham Palace.