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WEARING MEDALS

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The New Zealand Defence Force Medal Mounting Standard

On 28 May 2012 the Chief of Defence Force approved the NZDF Medal Mounting Standard.

The Standard applies to orders, decorations and medals full-size and miniature, mounted for wear on NZDF uniform for all NZDF personnel including non-regular and NZ Cadet Forces. The Standard also applies to the mounting and wear of ribbon bars, unit citations and service commendations on NZDF uniform.

The relevant documents for viewing and download are here:

1. The NZDF Medal Mounting Standard (pdf format 91 kb and MS Word format 293 kb);

2. The NZDF Signal of 9 July 2012 (pdf format 25 kb and MS Word format 56 kb). The Signal lists the main changes within the Standard and contains the instructions for implementing these changes.

Note: The Standard does not apply to ex-Service persons or medal mounting for display purposes in museums or other locations.

Frequently asked questions about the NZDF Medal Mounting Standard (updated 12 July 2012)

Q. Does the NZDF Medal Mounting Standard apply to ex-Service persons?

A. No.

Q. I am a serving soldier. Do I need to remount my medals and get new ribbon bars now?

A. No. Existing medal groups and ribbon bars will remain as they are without any re-mounting until there is a need to do so. Legitimate reasons for re-mounting at NZDF expense are listed in paragraph 6 of the NZDF Signal of 9 July 2012.

Q. I am an NCO in the RNZAF. I have 10 medals. Can I have these mounted at more than 160mm wide for the full-size medal group?

A. Yes, this is permissible under certain circumstances. See paragraph 14a and its associated Notes in the NZDF Medal Mounting Standard.

Q. I am a RNZN sailor based at Devonport Naval Base. I have 10 medals and am broad-shouldered. Can I wear medal ribbons with rows of four, rather than a maximum of three ribbons in each row?

A. Yes, this is permissible under the following circumstances (as stated in paragraph 16d of the NZDF Medal Mounting Standard): 'If the wearer has a large physique and seven or more medals, four ribbons per row are permissible, at the discretion of the NZDF Representative authorising the work order.'

Mounting of Medals

Before an Order, Decoration or Medal can be worn, it must be provided with a form of attachment to a uniform jacket or coat. This is called mounting and there are two recognised forms. A medal is said to be mounted 'swing style' or be 'swing mounted' when it is suspended by its ribbon from a ribbon bar or brooch pin. Several medals can be attached to a long brooch pin bar however damage can occur from contact between these 'free swinging' medals. The alternative method, generally used where the owner wants to protect the medals from contact damage, is called 'Court Style' or 'Court Mounting'. Medal ribbons are stretched over a stiff mounting board with a medal bar brooch attachment at the top. Where many awards are to be worn, the medals are slightly overlapped so that they take up less space.

From 28 May 2012, the medal groups of serving NZDF military personnel with two or more medals are to be mounted ‘Court style’.

Single medals may be mounted ‘swing style’ or ‘Court style’, at the discretion / direction of the relevant NZDF authority (that is, the Unit Commanders and Cost Centre Managers).

These rules apply for both full size medals and miniature medals. (See p.3 of the NZDF Medal Mounting Standard)

Existing medal groups and ribbon bars will remain as they are without any re-mounting until there is a need to do so. Legitimate reasons for re-mounting at NZDF expense are listed in paragraph 6 of the NZDF Signal of 9 July 2012.

Note: The NZDF Medal Mounting Standard does not apply to ex-Service persons or medal mounting for display purposes in museums or other locations.

Also see the Frequently asked questions about the NZDF Medal Mounting Standard.

new medal mounting administrative process for all serving NZDF personnel - with effect 1 July 2014

With effect 1 July 2014 all medal mounting for serving NZDF personnel is to be processed through the Defence Shared Services Group (DSSG) Camp and Base Service Centres.

For more information see the NZDF Signal released on 30 Jun 2014 (pdf format 66kb and MS Word format 48kb).

Order of Precedence for Mounting

Medals must be mounted in the correct order of precedence in accordance with the New Zealand Order of Wear. The medal in the group with the highest precedence is mounted at the right hand end (nearest the lapel) of the medal bar descending to the lowest precedence medal at the left hand end. In New Zealand, the medal with the highest precedence is the Victoria Cross and the lowest would be some awards made by foreign Governments. Miniature medals and medal ribbon bars are mounted in the same sequence. When ribbons alone are worn, only four or five ribbons can be mounted in one row on a ribbon bar before a second row centred above the first is started. The senior medal ribbon is displayed on the top row closest to the lapel and the junior medal on the bottom row furtherest from the lapel.

Many medals experts and collectors specialise in mounting medals and they will be able to advise on all aspects of mounting and the correct Order of Wear. A guide to the correct Order of Wearing of Medals in New Zealand can be viewed here. The purpose of this guide is to assist medal recipients to determine the correct order in which their medals should be mounted and worn. It should be noted that the Wearing of Medals in New Zealand Table needs to be interpreted for each individual medal holder, for the reasons discussed at the end of the Wearing of Medals in New Zealand Table.

The official New Zealand Order of Wear

The official New Zealand Order of Wear is maintained by the Honours Unit, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The current version of the official New Zealand Order of Wear is published on the Honours Unit website.  A guide to the correct order of wear of New Zealand orders, decorations and medals, based on the official New Zealand Order of Wear, is provided on the NZDF Medals website.

Wearing your own medals

Medals awarded to you are worn on your left chest.

Wearing of medals by ex-service personnel

Ex-service personnel who were entitled to wear their medals while in uniform may continue to do so in civilian clothing on appropriate occasions. The medals are mounted and worn in exactly the same manner as for uniformed wear. The wearing of miniature medals by both male and female ex-service personnel is designed to make wearing much more practical and comfortable while in evening dress. The wearing of miniature medals by civilians at other times (for example, during commemorative services or parades) is not officially recognised.

Wearing of Medals by Civilians

Some civilians have been awarded medals for their service for New Zealand, for example the East Timor Medal and the New Zealand Operational Service Medal. The medals are mounted and worn in exactly the same manner as for uniformed wear. The wearing of miniature medals by both men and women is designed to make wearing much more practical and comfortable while in evening clothes.

Wearing of Medals by Family Members

Next-of-kin and other relatives of deceased servicemen and women wearing their relative's medals has become common at ANZAC Day services since the 1990s. The wear of deceased relatives' medals is appropriate on specific occasions and under certain circumstances. This applies to both military and civilian next-of-kin and other relatives of former New Zealand services personnel.

Conventions for wearing a relative’s medals include:

• People should only wear one set of medals and they should be directly related to their family, for example, should have belonged to a brother or sister, dad or mum, grandfather or grandmother.

• In all cases these are worn on the right chest. This differentiates between former servicemen and women (who wear their own medals on the left chest) and next-of-kin or other relatives (who wear their relative's medals on the right chest).

• Only service medals and decorations mounted on a medal bar (full-size or miniature) can be worn by a relative. It is perfectly acceptable for people to wear miniature medals mounted on a medal bar as the weight is far easier to handle.

• Royal Honours insignia such as neck badges, sashes, sash badges, or breast stars cannot be worn by anyone other than the original recipient. The same rule applies to any Unit and Personal Commendations that the deceased wore on their right chest.

• The occasions on which wearing of relatives medals is permitted are confined to Anzac Day (25 April) and Remembrance Day (11 November). In addition, it may be appropriate for next-of-kin and other relatives to wear relative's medals on an occasion where either the relative's service or the unit in which they served is being commemorated.

Related media statement:

Wearing of Ribbon and/or Medals for Military Service by personnel of the New Zealand Police, New Zealand Fire Service, and other New Zealand Government Agencies

The New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Fire Service are Government agencies within a country for which Her Majesty The Queen is the Head of State. Therefore, all awards approved for wear in the official Order of Wear may be worn on Police uniform, Fire Service uniform, and any other official New Zealand agency uniform. A Government agency may stipulate that no medals or ribbons are be worn on their uniform.  However, a Government agency may not stipulate that only their own Long Service and Good Conduct Medal be worn on their uniform.

Fraudulent Wearing of Medals

No person, with the exception of a direct descendant of a deceased service man or woman, may wear medals which have not been awarded to him or her personally. This also applies to the wearing of miniature medals and medal ribbons. In addition, no person may wear a medal or decoration awarded to them by a foreign government unless it has been approved for wear by the Sovereign. The Military Decorations and Distinctive Badges Act 1918 and the Military Decorations and Distinctive Badges Amendment Act 1974 refer.

Wearing of Lifesaving Medals

The award of official Government medals for acts of bravery and self- sacrifice in saving life is only relatively recent. Prior to the introduction of medals such as the Albert and George medals, it was left to private organisations to honour those who risked their lives to save others. Many organisations such as the Royal Humane Society, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Order of St John and Lloyds of London as well as cities and both private and public companies struck and issued lifesaving medals. British lifesaving medals were awarded to New Zealanders until 1998 when a specific range of New Zealand Bravery Awards designed to recognise both military and civilian personnel was instituted. Some organisations such as the Royal Humane Society and Order of St John still continue to issue lifesaving medals in their own right. Medals issued by the British or New Zealand Governments for saving life are assigned a place in the New Zealand Order of Wear and are to be worn with other Honours, Decorations and Medals on the left breast. All other lifesaving medals are to be worn on the right breast.

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 This page was last reviewed 30 June, 2014 and is current.

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