header Notes Collection

2 Dollars 1981, New Zealand

in Krause book Number: 170a
Years of issue: 1981 - 1984
Signatures: Chief Cashier: Mr. H. R. Hardie
Serie: Decimal system. The Fourth Issue
Specimen of: 1981
Material: Cotton fiber
Size (mm): 145 x 72.5
Printer: Bradbury, Wilkinson & Company, Whangarei

* All pictures marked magnify are increased partially by magnifying glass, the remaining open in full size by clicking on the image.

** The word "Specimen" is present only on some of electronic pictures, in accordance with banknote images publication rules of appropriate banks.

2 Dollars 1981



James Cook

Captain James Cook (7 November 1728 - 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Cook joined the British merchant navy as a teenager and joined the Royal Navy in 1755. He saw action in the Seven Years' War, and subsequently surveyed and mapped much of the entrance to the Saint Lawrence River during the siege of Quebec. This helped bring Cook to the attention of the Admiralty and Royal Society. This notice came at a crucial moment in both Cook's career and the direction of British overseas exploration, and led to his commission in 1766 as commander of HM Bark Endeavour for the first of three Pacific voyages.

In three voyages Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe. He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously achieved. As he progressed on his voyages of discovery he surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps for the first time. He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage and an ability to lead men in adverse conditions.

Cook was killed in Hawaii in a fight with Hawaiians during his third exploratory voyage in the Pacific in 1779. He left a legacy of scientific and geographical knowledge which was to influence his successors well into the 20th century and numerous memoria worldwide have been dedicated to him.

James Cook

It is possible, that the prototype image of James Cook on the banknote was the work by artist Nathaniel Dance, finished in London on 25 May 1776.


2 Dollars 1981

Portrait of the Queen

HM The Queen Elizabeth II. The photograph that was used of the Queen was taken in April 1975 by the late Reading-based photographer Peter Grugeon and later released for official use during the Silver Jubilee in 1977. It is one of the more popular images of The Queen. (Peter Symes).

Her Majesty is depicted wearing Grand Duchess Vladimir's tiara, Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee necklace, the Royal Family Orders of King George VI and George V and Queen Alexandra's Wedding Earrings.


The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara.

No tiara is complete without a fascinating backstory, and this one's even got a daring escape. Made by Bolin, it glittered at the Russian royal court on the head of Grand Duchess Vladimir until the revolution, when it was left behind as the family fled. A British agent and friend smuggled it out of Russia to rejoin the exiled Grand Duchess and her collection. After her death, the tiara was bought from her daughter by Queen Mary. It's worn often today by the Queen with pearl or emerald drops, or occasionally with no drops. The pearl drop option has been the most popular with the Queen in recent years, probably owing to her love of white gowns in the evening and accompanying white jewels.

Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee necklace

To mark Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, a committee of ladies was formed to raise money for a commemorative statue of Victoria’s late husband Prince Albert. The committee’s fundraising was quite successful, and they ended up raising far more than was required for the statue. An agreement was formed with the Queen that the excess should go to the St. Katherine’s Fund for Nurses. At the same time, some members of the committee decided that a portion of the funds should be used to purchase a necklace for the Queen - and this was also approved by Her Majesty.

The trouble was, the committee did not agree on the necklace. Some felt it would be wrong to spend the funds which had been previously devoted to charity on something else. Much discussion and debate ensued, as is described in depth in Hugh Roberts’ book The Queen’s Diamonds. (My favorite tidbit: Queen Victoria, angry that she wouldn’t get her promised necklace, shot down the prospect of a diamond badge commemorating the nursing fund by declaring she would “at once exchange it for another jewel”.

In the end, a compromise was reached and this necklace, made for £5000 (far less than the necklace originally proposed) from gold, diamonds, and pearls by Carrington & Co. was presented to Queen Victoria in 1888. It features a central quatrefoil diamond motif with a large pearl in the middle, topped by a crown and underlined with a drop pearl. The next four links in either direction are graduated trefoil motifs; the central piece and the six largest trefoils can also be worn as brooches.

Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings

She is also wearing Queen Alexandra’s Cluster Earrings. The wedding gift from the future King Edward VII to his bride, Alexandra of Denmark. Also known as Queen Alexandra's Cluster Earrings, these two button earrings have large pearls surrounded by diamonds - 10 larger stones each plus smaller filler stones to create a full diamond ring. Like the brooch, these passed to the Queen via Queen Mary. They're now worn primarily at evening functions.

Royal Family Orders.

King George IV started a practice in the British royal family which continues today: the awarding of family orders. These are diamond-set portraits of the monarch suspended from a silk bow (the color varying by reign), and they are today given to female royal family members of the sovereign's choosing as a personal gift.

Royal Family Order George V

Queen Elizabeth was first given her grandfather George V's order, set on pale blue silk.

Royal Family Order George VI

Followed by her father George VI's, on pink silk, and she wears them both today. (A royal lady can wear all the family orders she has at once.) The orders are positioned on the left shoulder. They are worn for the most formal events, and can usually be seen on the Queen when she's at a tiara event.

In most renditions of this portrait, the Royal Family Order of King George VI is apparent below the left-hand shoulder of Her Majesty, while the uppermost portion of the Royal Family Order of King George V is apparent in only some renditions of the portrait. (Her majesty's Jewel Vault)

Various geometric patterns used to supply the necessary security and enhance the design. Value of note on top left and bottom right corners with the serial number opposite. Central portion carries the words: “This note is legal tender for....”.


2 Dollars 1981


The Rifleman (Acanthisitta chloris, Tītipounamu) is a small insectivorous passerine bird, that is endemic to New Zealand. The true habitat of this bird is thinly wooded forests, but other similar New Zealand species live near rocky outcrops. The Rifleman is the most widespread species of acanthisittids in the two main islands of New Zealand. However the bird occurs only rarely in latitudes north of Te Aroha. The North Island subspecies, granti, occurs mainly in lowland tawa forest, while the South Island subspecies, chloris, is found in high altitude beech forest or lowland areas forested with podocarp.

The Rifleman is named after a colonial New Zealand regiment because its plumage drew similarities with the military uniform of a rifleman.

Plagianthus regius

Bird flying about branch of Plagianthus regius.

Plagianthus regius or lowland ribbonwood is a tree that is endemic to New Zealand. The common name is simply ribbonwood. The Māori name is manatu but is also known as houi, manaui manatu, puruhi and whauwhi.

The juvenile form has bushy interlacing branches with small leaves, while an older tree will tend to have larger leaves, sometimes with the lower parts of tree still displaying divaricating leaves.

A profusion of small white or green flowers appear in dense clusters in spring making it easier to distinguish from the similar lacebark genus.

One of the distinctive aspects of this tree is that it is usually deciduous which is unusual for New Zealand, although in the northern areas it can be semi-deciduous. It is considered the largest of New Zealand's deciduous trees growing to 17 meters.

It grows in the North, South and Stewart Islands.

A subspecies from the Chatham Islands, Plagianthus regius subsp. chathamicus, is very similar but lacks the divaricating aspect.


Mistletoe (Peraxilla tetrapetala), a parasite shrub growing mostly on native beech trees. It looks like the red mistletoe, but has larger leaves and flowers. The largest species of mistletoe in New Zealand, sometimes reaches up to 3 meters in diameter. Scarlet mistletoe usually accompanies 16 different plant species, but is most common on a silver beech.

Mistletoe populations have declined all over New Zealand since the early 1900s mainly due to possum browse, vegetation clearance and decline in native bird species, which act as pollinators and seed-dispersers.

Rats are also suspected of eating mistletoe and insects damage them.

If this decline continues, more local populations may disappear and, in the long term, species could go extinct nationwide.

The Loranthaceous Mistletoes of New Zealand have long been recognized as attractive, unusual and valued components of our forest flora. Few people will forget the sight of a beech (Nothofagus) forest at the height of summer when the beech mistletoes Alepis and Peraxilla are in full bloom. So spectacular are these flowers, that a small sprig of one of these species, the scarlet mistletoe (Peraxilla colensoi), was selected to grace the front of former $2 note. This act is the only instance where a nationally listed threatened plant species has been depicted on New Zealand currency. Unfortunately, the reasons behind the choice of flower had little to do with raising public awareness of the need to conserve mistletoes, but rather was a recognition of the flower’s beauty. So it is perhaps today a matter of some irony that at the time of the change to decimal currency, this mistletoe, along with our other Loranthaceae, was a common species, and that now scarlet mistletoe, like the $2 note it once graced, is fa st becoming a curiosity of the past.

Denominations in numerals bottom left and top right. In words top left.


TDLR Portrait Bradbury Wilkinson Portrait

The De La Rue engraving, as well as reflecting the differences mentioned in Portrait 17a, also represents The Queen with a more cheerful aspect, achieving this through slight differences around Her eyes and lips.

Bradbury Wilkinson's version of this portrait has less shading on The Queen's neck just above Her necklace, than is apparent on the De La Rue engravings (Portrait 17b). There are other subtle variations to the second version, noticeably in the patterns on Her Majesty's dress.

The Dollar introduced since 10.07.1967 instead of the New Zealand pound, 1 pound = $ 2.