Wellington Scoop

Messages on twenty dollar notes – but who from?

message on money

Wellington.Scoop report by Gregor Thompson
New Zealand twenty dollar notes with the text “This twenty dollars can give a woman a safe place to stay at women’s refuge – safenight.nz” have been spotted around Wellington over the last week, with reports of one as far north as Upper Hutt. The person or organisation responsible for the stickers does not indicate who they are and has not come forward.

Women’s Refuge has rejected any association with this project that appears to be designed to raise awareness for the foundation that is requesting $20 donations to “Help the victims of family violence by booking a room for someone you’ll never meet, in a place you’ll hopefully never visit”. They responded to an email saying that they do not know anything about the notes and that they are looking into it.

Section 28 of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989 makes it an offence to willfully deface, disfigure, or mutilate any bank note in New Zealand. The penalty is a fine of up to NZD 1000.00.

It is arguable whether or not putting stickers on bank notes constitutes defacement, disfiguration or mutilation but this is presumably the reason the activists have chosen to stay quiet.

At this stage it is uncertain whether this act is a publicity stunt or private altruism, but it is certainly novel.

Raising awareness for domestic violence is objectively a social good. If the notes continue to appear it will be interesting to see whether or not the Reserve Bank chooses to remove the stickers or let them remain in circulation given the moral nature of the project.

If anyone knows anything more about this, we would be happy to hear from you, email: Gregorkendrickthompson@gmail.com


  1. Lucy, 11. August 2020, 14:33

    I was wondering what this was all about! I got handed one of these notes at the Fix on Manners when I used a $50 note to buy a $4.50 pie. Great stuff raising awareness.

  2. Albert Ross, 13. August 2020, 7:35

    Suffragettes in the nineteenth century stamped “Votes for women” on low-value coins.

  3. Lesley Marsters, 13. August 2020, 9:37

    Great cause; if not defaced no great harm done. Exceptional times brings exceptional measures!