Tahir featured in just one match on the victorious tour of Australia but failed to impress in Adelaide, ending wicketless with his 37 overs going for 260 runs. Robin Peterson took his place for the final Test in Perth and claimed six wickets as the tourists enjoyed a 309-run triumph.
"It was a tough call to leave out Imran Tahir but we have to acknowledge that Robin Peterson put up an outstanding performance at Perth where he made a significant contribution to our victory " said selection convener Andrew Hudson. "Imran remains very much in our plans going forward."
Imran aside the selectors retained the bulk of the squad which produced Down Under.
Hudson added: "I don't think anybody will be surprised that we have kept faith with the 11 players who did duty in the winning Test match against Australia at Perth as well as Rory Kleinveldt and Jacques Rudolph, who played two Test matches each.
"There is every indication at this stage that Jacques Kallis will be fully fit to fill his all-rounder's role which will get us back to the balance that has served us so well this year, with a combination of seven specialist batsmen and five specialist bowlers."
Faf du Plessis has been named Proteas captain for the three-match Twenty20 series against the Black Caps. Du Plessis will replace regular skipper AB de Villiers, who is still in the squad but is likely to be rested for at least one of the fixtures.
Nashua Titans opening batsman Henry Davids and Highveld Lions duo Quinton de Kock and Aaron Phangiso were handed maiden call-ups, while there was also a place for Chris Morris, whose only previous Proteas appearances came in the unofficial T20 series against Zimbabwe earlier this year.
South Africa Test squad: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Jacques Kallis, Rory Kleinveldt, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Jacques Rudolph, Dale Steyn.
T20 squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.