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New Zealand Campaign Medals

Medals that are struck to recognise service in a war or other 'warlike' or 'non-warlike' operational activity are known as Campaign Medals. They are awarded irrespective of rank to all personnel who served in the particular theatre of war or operation and who meet the minimum service requirement based on time and location. Until the end of the Second World War, New Zealand service personnel were awarded British Campaign Medals, however since that time a number of specific New Zealand Campaign Medals have been created.

Many Campaign Medals are awarded for service in very wide geographical areas. Service in a specific operation within the wider campaign area is often recognised by the award of a clasp engraved with the name of the specific area or activity. An example is the New Zealand General Service Medal 1992 (Warlike) which has four clasps, Near East, Malaya 1960-64, Vietnam and Kuwait. There is no limit to the number of clasps which can be issued for one Campaign Medal. For example, the New Zealand General Service Medal 1992 (Non-Warlike) has 13 clasps. There is an increasing trend today, to use the same medal for different campaigns with the different areas of operation being denoted by different medal ribbons. An example is the New Zealand General Service Medal 2002.

Information is provided at the end of this page on how decisions are made on whether or not a New Zealand campaign medal and/or the New Zealand Operational Service Medal is awarded for a particular place and period of service. If the service was not operational service, as defined by the New Zealand Government, a campaign or operational service medal will not be instituted or awarded.


Link to Category Ribbons

The Ribbons of New Zealand Campaign Medals can be viewed here.

Links to Information on Medals by Campaign and Medals by RNZN deployment

Medals Listed by Campaign - since 3 September 1945

Medals Listed by RNZN Deployment 3 September 1945 to the present

First and Second World War Medals - images and information


how decisions are made to institute a campaign medal or extend the award of the NZOSM (for service since 3 September 1945)

The New Zealand Government makes decisions on instituting campaign medals or extending the award of the NZOSM by assessing each place and period of service against its Principles for medallic recognition for operational service and its Definition of operational service.

Principles for medallic recognition for operational service (since 3 September 1945)

In 2001 the New Zealand Government adopted a set of eight principles by which the award of medallic recognition for operational service, which exceeds the normal requirements of peacetime, is judged. These are summarised here:

Definition of operational service

Operational service is service which exceeds the normal requirements of peacetime service, and which involves a credible military threat from enemy military forces, insurgents, or other hostile forces. If the service involves no threat, or is determined as having only a very low threat level, a campaign or operational service medal will not be instituted or awarded.

The New Zealand Defence Force defines three categories of operational service: warlike, hazardous, and non-warlike.

• Warlike – In a state of declared war, or with conventional combat operations against an armed adversary, or peace enforcement between belligerents who have NOT consented to any intervention.

• Hazardous - Peace enforcement between belligerents who HAVE consented to intervention or requested assistance, or missions where casualties may be expected.

• Non-warlike – Military activities in which casualties are not expected, including peacekeeping or sanctions-enforcing missions in benign situations, disaster relief in locations where there are belligerents or other hostile groups, observer activities and other hazardous activities.