First Golden Kiwi draw

12 December 1961

Golden Kiwi poster (New Zealand Lotteries Commission)

Tickets went on sale for New Zealand’s new national Golden Kiwi lottery. All 250,000 tickets sold with 24 hours, with the £12,000 top prize (equivalent to around $500,000 today) four times that offered in previous lotteries.

A national ‘art union’ lottery operated in New Zealand from 1932, but the prizes were small. Many people continued to take part, illegally, in overseas lotteries. In an attempt to benefit from their popularity, the government began to tax some of these lotteries in the 1950s, although the revenue was paltry.

In 1961, Minister of Internal Affairs Leon Götz established a more attractive national lottery to help meet increased demands for funding by community groups.

Despite criticism by some religious groups, Golden Kiwi was a huge public success. To ensure lottery funds were distributed fairly, the government established an independent committee and six specialist grants boards.

Like its predecessors, the Golden Kiwi eventually lost the public’s interest. It managed to survive until 1989, by which time New Zealanders had embarked on a new love affair with Lotto (see 22 July).