The New Zealand Special Service Medal (Erebus)
About the New Zealand Special Service Medal (Erebus)
The NZSSM (Erebus) was instituted in November 2006 to recognise the service of those New Zealanders, and citizens of the United States of America and other countries, who were involved with the extremely difficult and very unpleasant, hazardous, and extreme circumstances associated with the body recovery, crash investigation and victim identification phases of Operation Overdue. Operation Overdue was mounted by the New Zealand Police following the crash of Air New Zealand DC-10-30 ZK-NZP Flight TE901 on the north slope of Mount Erebus, Ross Island, Antarctica on 28 November 1979, with the loss of all 257 passengers and crew.
The recovery and investigation phase of Operation Overdue lasted in Antarctica from 29 November 1979 to 12 December 1979. The identification phase of the operation at the mortuary of the Auckland University School of Medicine lasted from 6 December 1979 to 12 February 1980.
Service at one or more of the following locations will qualify persons for the award of the NZSSM (Erebus):
i) the crash site, Mount Erebus;
ii) on supply or support flights to and from the crash site;
iii) at Williams Field, McMurdo Station (service associated with the processing or packing of victims’ remains and personal effects from the Erebus crash for transportation to New Zealand); or
iv) the Mortuary, Auckland University School of Medicine, Auckland.
The NZSSM (Erebus) is the third NZSSM that has been created to recognise service in extreme and hazardous circumstances. The first NZSSM, the NZSSM (Nuclear Testing), was instituted in 2002, to recognise the service of those personnel who were part of an official New Zealand Government presence at an atmospheric nuclear test between 1956 and 1973.
The second NZSSM, the NZSSM (Asian Tsunami), was instituted in 2005, to recognise New Zealanders who were involved in rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and the resulting tsunami of 26 December 2004.
The award of the NZSSM does not qualify a recipient for the award of the New Zealand Operational Service Medal (NZOSM). The NZOSM is only awarded for service which involves a credible risk of casualties from enemy military forces or unlawful combatants. Service recognised by the NZSSM (Erebus) did not involve enemy military forces or unlawful combatants.
The NZSSM (Erebus) is issued engraved on the bottom rim. For New Zealand military personnel, the recipient's service number, rank, initials, surname, and corps / Service are engraved. These details are as at the date of the service which qualified him or her for the medal.
About the ribbon
The ribbon is 32 mm in width and is composed of seven vertical stripes: dark blue, light (or astral) blue, white, black, white, light (or astral) blue, and dark blue. Dark blue alludes to the sea that surrounds Antarctica, and also alludes to the New Zealand Police who were involved with the recovery and identification of bodies. Light (or astral) blue alludes to the sky and to Air New Zealand. White alludes to the ice and snow of Antarctica. Black alludes to the aircraft disaster (the aircraft crash on the slopes of Mount Erebus left a black streak across the polar ice). Black and white are also regarded as the national colours of New Zealand.
The ribbon was designed by Mr Phillip O'Shea, CNZM, LVO, the New Zealand Herald of Arms.
The Royal Warrant for the New Zealand Special Service Medal can be viewed here.
The Regulations for the New Zealand Special Service Medal (Erebus) can be viewed here.
Clasps and Bars
There are no clasps or bars for this medal.
Order of Wear
The position of this medal in the Wearing of Medals in New Zealand Table can be viewed here.
Media statements concerning the New Zealand Special Service Medal (Erebus)
22 March 2007 - Presentation of NZ Special Service Medal (Erebus)
28 November 2006 - Erebus Special Service medal to be awarded
Applicants will need to complete one of the following two downloadable forms:
Further information on the Erebus disaster
Further information on the Erebus disaster can be found on the following pages of the NZ History.net website: