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Fond memories of launching the dollar


A former Masterton man who helped launch the New Zealand dollar has died. He was 88.

Royce Doyle was born in 1930 and after leaving Wairarapa College, joined the Bank of New Zealand in 1948.

He worked for the bank in Masterton until 1951, before transferring to Waikato, and on to other branches around the country.

In 1964, he was seconded as bankers’ representative to the special division of Treasury set up to handle the changeover to decimal currency in 1967.

As he wrote in the Times-Age last year, there was close liaison between all banks and Treasury to raise awareness of the many changes that had to be made to move from pounds, shillings and pence to the new money.

“This was a challenging role and involved many hours of ‘brainstorming’ to determine what changes had to be made to coinage, notes, office machinery, and advertising etc, to keep the public aware of the upcoming change and keeping in touch with all the parties involved.”

In a radio interview, he explained how bank staff worked overtime to ensure cheques written in pounds sterling were processed and clear of the system before the changeover.

He also recalled the public being able to submit designs for the new dollar notes, including one featuring an old lady knitting with wool taken straight from a sheep’s back.

The design didn’t make it on to a note, but it created a lot of hilarity.

“The changeover was very smooth as a result of good co-operation of all interested parties.

“It was pleasing to have been a part of it.”

Growing up through the war years, Doyle was at home with his mother for much of that period, with his father and sister in the navy, and his brother in the army.

“This happened to many people of my vintage and we matured very quickly.

“In that environment, you learned to accept what you had, make the most of it and adapt where necessary.”

He recalled the 1942 earthquake that caused considerable damage to Masterton with many of the buildings simply boarded up until the war was over, because supplies were not available for rebuilding.

He was also kept awake by the night-flying Harvard training aircraft from Hood Aerodrome.

Other memories of growing up in Masterton included playing rugby and cricket for the Red Star Club, boating on Park Lake and playing tennis at the Masterton Lawn Tennis Club in Dixon Street.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years Margarita, daughter Phillipa and son Michael, and three grandsons – Liam, Angus, and Logan – and a granddaughter, Olivia.

A funeral service was held at St Benedict’s church in Khandallah, Wellington, today at 11am.

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