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.
Information on the most recent three NZSGM 2002s can be found via the links below:
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
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.
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:
- Principle 1. Medals are awarded to recognise service that is beyond the normal requirements of peacetime service.
- Principle 2. Deserving service by New Zealand personnel should be recognised by a New Zealand award.
- Principle 3. There must be a balance between maintaining the exclusivity of awards and recognising significant service.
- Principle 4. In all but exceptional circumstances, there should be only one New Zealand medal to recognise each period of operational service.
- Principle 5. Awards will be continued only where the service rendered continues to meet all other requirements for the award of a medal.
- Principle 6. Medals for operational service should be open for award to civilians in appropriate circumstances.
- Principle 7. The fairness and integrity of any award must be transparent, and such awards should also be timely.
- Principle 8. Approval will be sought to accept and wear medals awarded by foreign governments or international organisations, where the service performed by New Zealand personnel is consistent with the other principles for medallic recognition.
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.
- • For example, service in Bougainville since 1997.
• 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.
Why many New Zealand campaign medals have a one day or one sortie qualifying criteria, while other New Zealand campaign medals require 30 days service
Since the Second World War, one day on land or one sortie has been the standard length of qualifying service for New Zealand and British Commonwealth war and campaign medals for New Zealand Armed Forces personnel serving in war zones or operational theatres with an Operational Threat Level of High or above. Official visitors normally require 30 days service to qualify for the medal.
The relevant medals include the:
1) Africa Star (Second World War)
2) Pacific Star (Second World War)
3) Burma Star (Second World War)
4) Italy Star (Second World War)
5) France and Germany Star (Second World War)
6) Korea Medal (Korean War)
7) NZGSM 1992 (Warlike) with clasp ‘Malaya 1960-64’
8) Vietnam Medal (Vietnam War)
9) NZGSM 1992 (Warlike) with clasp ‘Vietnam’ (Vietnam War)
10) NZGSM 2002 (Afghanistan) with Primary Operational Area ribbon (Afghanistan since 2001)
11) NZGSM 2002 (Iraq 2003)
12) NZGSM 2002 (Iraq 2015)
The length of service requirement recognises all of the following factors:
1) the high level of threat to which our personnel are exposed in these missions,
a. including from the threat from air-to-air and/or surface-to-air attacks;
2) the important contribution to the mission outcomes of all those who deploy into the operational theatre, whether for a six month tour or for a shorter period in a direct support role on a task essential to the mission (whether on land or on an aircraft sortie); and
3) the tri-Service nature of the NZDF contribution to these operational missions.
Sorties. While the qualifying minimum is one sortie most aircrew, supernumerary aircrew and supernumerary crew fly into the relevant operational theatre multiple times.
Thirty (30) days on land, at sea, or seven sorties, is the normal length of qualifying service for New Zealand campaign medals for service since 1 January 2000 in operational theatres with an Operational Threat Level of Low or Medium. Official visitors normally also require 30 days service to qualify for the medal.
The relevant medals include the:
Some campaign medals do not have a specific criteria for sorties. For example, the NZGSM 2002 (Korea) and the NZGSM 1992 (Non-warlike) with clasp ‘Bougainville’.
The specific requirements for each medal can be viewed on our website. The Medals By Campaign table provides short summaries of the qualifying requirements for every war or campaign medal worn by New Zealand Armed Forces personnel for operational service from 3 September 1945 to the present.