Foreign Campaign Medals Awarded to New Zealanders
Many New Zealand service personnel serving with New Zealand or Commonwealth forces in foreign countries have been the recipients of medals, decorations and awards from those countries. Some of these awards are campaign medals (that is, for a specified length of service in a particular campaign or operational theatre). Other awards are for gallantry or meritorious service by an individual.
This section of the website focuses mainly on foreign campaign medals for service since 1950, with a brief discussion of foreign awards for gallantry and meritorious service.
Not all foreign awards are approved for wearing in New Zealand and only those, which have been approved, are featured in this website. Approval to wear foreign awards must be given and in some cases this has been granted on a 'restricted' basis. Medals in this 'restricted' wear category may only be worn under certain conditions.
Foreign Campaign Medals awarded to New Zealanders for service since 1950
Also see the United Nations Medals section of our website for the United Nations awarded to New Zealanders.
Information on the NATO Medal for Afghanistan - NATO Operation Resolute Support (for service from 1 January 2015) can be found here.
Media Statements and NZDF Medals News items of interest about Foreign Campaign Medals Awarded to New Zealanders
2 November 2012 - NATO Medal ISAF policy changes
6 April 2009 - Timor-Leste Solidarity Medal Update
16 February 2009 - Timor Leste President honours Peacekeeping Personnel
First World War
About 200 New Zealand military personnel received awards for gallantry or meritorious service from foreign governments for their First World War service. Most of these awards were from either Belgium (96 awards) or France (95 awards), with small numbers from Egypt (8 awards), Italy (6), Montenegro (3), Romania (10), Imperial Russia (7) and Serbia (25).
Note: The source of the above information is Geoffrey P. Oldham and Brett Delahunt, Orders, Decorations and Medals Awarded to New Zealanders: An Illustrated Guide for Collectors, published in 1991, pp.100-104. This book lists the names of the awards and how many awards were made but does not provide information on the recipients.
For information on recipients of the French Legion of Honour see Mark Brewer's three articles on 'New Zealand and the Légion d’honneur: The Great War' in The Volunteers: The Journal of the New Zealand Military Historical Society. Part 1 is in vol. 37, no. 2, November 2011, pp.111-125. Part 2 is in vol. 37, no. 3, March 2012, pp.171-180. Part 3 is in vol. 38, no. 1, July 2012, pp.7-23 and contains a full list (pp.20-23) of the awards discussed in the three articles. Part 3 also lists and discusses the service of the nine New Zealand First World War veterans who were decorated by the French Government in 1998 with the Croix de Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur to mark the 80th anniversary of the end of the First World War (pp.13-17).
Second World War
Foreign awards to individual New Zealanders during the Second World War included the Croix de Guerre (Belgium, France), the Military Cross (Greece), the Air Medal (USA), the Bronze Star (USA), the Legion of Merit (USA) and the Distinguished Flying Cross (USA). A small number of New Zealanders received gallantry or meritorious service awards from Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the USSR and Yugoslavia.
Information on New Zealand military personnel who were awarded foreign awards for gallantry during the Second World War can be found in James Sutherland's book, Gallantry Awards to New Zealanders in World War Two, published in 1989 (see pp.11-12, 98-103 and 194-199). The names of the awards and how many awards were made (but no information on the recipients) are listed in Geoffrey P. Oldham and Brett Delahunt, Orders, Decorations and Medals Awarded to New Zealanders: An Illustrated Guide for Collectors, pp.100-104.
Permission from His Majesty George VI for specific New Zealanders to wear a foreign gallantry or meritorious service award was published in the London Gazette. See The London Gazette online: http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk . Though to find the permission for a specific individual you will need to know the date that the award was notified in the London Gazette. For example, see Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 May 1948, p.2922 for the announcement of the 'unrestricted permission' for three specified New Zealand Army personnel to each wear one United States award.
Korean War 1950 to 1953
A list of New Zealand military personnel who received awards from the United States for gallantry during the Korean War is provided in Ian McGibbon's book, New Zealand and the Korean War, Volume II: Combat Operations, published in 1996, pp.374 and 378. These military personnel were awarded the Air Medal, the Bronze Star, or the Legion of Merit.
Afghanistan 2003 to 2013
More recently, more than 70 New Zealanders have been awarded the Bronze Star, the United States Meritorious Service Medal or the United States Army Commendation Medal in recognition of their exemplary operational service in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2013. On 16 October 2006, fourteen NZDF personnel were presented with the Bronze Star Medal or the United States Army Commendation Medal at a ceremony at the United States Embassy in Wellington. More information on the 16 October 2006 ceremony can be found on the Archived News 2006 page of the NZDF Medals website.
On 15 November 2011, 25 NZDF personnel received the Bronze Star, the United States Meritorious Service Medal or the United States Army Commendation Medal at a ceremony in Defence House, Wellington. More information on the 15 November 2011 ceremony can be found on the Breaking News page of the NZDF Medals website. Further presentations to another 11 NZDF personnel were held in December 2011 and 2012.
Captions: Left: United States Bronze Star (obverse view); Middle: United States Meritorious Service Medal (obverse view); Right: United States Army Commendation Medal (obverse view)
Update 16 September 2019: United States Army Achievement Medals, United States Air Force Achievement Medals and equivalent Achievement Medals are not to be worn on NZDF uniform. Approval for wear of these awards will not be given as there is no equivalent medal in the New Zealand Honours System. The closest equivalent in the New Zealand recognition system would be a letter of commendation from a Commanding Officer.
Recipients of these United States Achievement Medals should keep these awards as valued mementoes of their service alongside United States military personnel.
If presented with an Achievement Medal while on deployment or on an overseas posting, NZDF personnel are to graciously accept these awards and advise your Service Career Manager and ask them to update your military personal file. A copy of the certificate and any accompanying forms are to be placed on your military personal file. Please also advise NZDF Personnel Archives and Medals (NZDF PAM), Trentham so the NZDF record of all NZDF recipients of an Achievement Medal can be updated. You can either e-mail 'Personnel Archives and Medals' on DIXS (to which scans of the documents can be attached), or complete the electronic contact form for enquiries about medals eligibility, issuing or replacement of medals.
United States Army Commendation Medals, equivalent Commendation Medals and higher level United States awards for meritorious service
Update 16 September 2019: Recipients of United States Army Commendation Medals, equivalent Commendation Medals, United States Meritorious Service Medals, United States Defence Meritorious Service Medals and the United States Legion of Merit are not to be worn on NZDF uniform until after the Governor-General's approval has been given for that individual to formally accept and wear the award.
In some circumstances, the recipients will not be given approval to wear United States awards and should keep these awards as valued mementoes of their service alongside United States military personnel.
If presented with a Commendation Medal or higher level award while on deployment or on an overseas posting, NZDF personnel are to graciously accept these awards and advise your Service Career Manager and ask them to update your military personal file. A copy of the certificate and any accompanying forms are to be placed on your military personal file. Please also advise NZDF Personnel Archives and Medals (NZDF PAM), Trentham. You can either e-mail 'Personnel Archives and Medals' on DIXS (to which scans of the documents can be attached), or complete the electronic contact form for enquiries about medals eligibility, issuing or replacement of medals.
For more information on the NZDF process and policy see Chapter 9 of DFO 6, Part 1 - Defence Force Orders for Honours and Awards (pdf format 5.54 MB). (Note: This link will only work on the NZDF intranet).
Media Statements about Foreign Awards for Gallantry or Meritorious Service by New Zealanders
14 June 2012 - Kiwi veteran’s U.S. honor is complete
15 November 2011 - New Zealand Defence Force personnel receive United States medals
15 October 2009 - Vietnam Gallantry Recognised
Note: No other New Zealanders are authorised to wear the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, or the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star.
16 October 2006 - Afghanistan service recognised by United States
Link to Category Ribbons
The Ribbons of Foreign Campaign Medals Awarded to New Zealanders can be viewed here.