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21 September 1999

New NZ Gallantry and Bravery Awards Approved

The Queen has approved the formal institution of a new range of Royal awards to recognise acts of gallantry and bravery performed by New Zealanders, Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, announced today.

Mrs Shipley said that the awards are the final major element in the development of a distinct New Zealand Royal honours system.

"I am confident that the new system will serve us well and enable New Zealand to recognise the various acts of heroism performed in our community", she said.

"The redevelopment of the awards for gallantry and bravery now means that we have a full range of awards and honours which are distinctly New Zealand.

"The awards were proposed by the 1995 Honours Advisory Committee that reviewed the honours system. Until May 1996, New Zealand made recommendations for various British awards for acts of gallantry performed during military operations and acts of bravery by civilians. However, the British Government's review and simplification of their awards system provided an ideal opportunity for New Zealand to also develop a unique and simplified system", Mrs Shipley said.

The new range of awards fall into two categories, awards for bravery and for gallantry, with both categories having four levels.

The four Gallantry Awards are designed to recognise acts of gallantry by New Zealand Defence Force and certain other personnel during war and war-like operations, including peacekeeping operations.

The Victoria Cross, now constituted under a New Zealand Royal Warrant, will remain New Zealand's highest award for acts of gallantry in war and war-like operations.

The Queen has also sanctioned a slight amendment to the criteria for the Victoria Cross so that it also can be awarded in situations other than in the presence of an enemy. This means that people involved in peacekeeping operations between two hostile parties will be eligible.

The premier award for acts of bravery by civilians, and military personnel for which purely military awards are not appropriate, will be a new New Zealand Cross.

Mrs Shipley said that considerable care has been taken in the structure and development of the criteria for the awards.

"Under the British system of military operational awards, the level of an award, until recently, was more often determined by the rank, as opposed to the deed, of an individual. This inequity does not feature in our new system."

Mrs Shipley said that she had received a number of nominations for gallantry and bravery awards during the last few years and these are being considered for the new awards.

"The Government has received recommendations for various awards. The Governor-General will shortly announce the names of the first recipients, after they have been approved by the Queen," the Prime Minister said.

The first presentation of the awards is expected to take place when the Governor-General formally launches the awards at Government House.

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