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Wearing of insignia

Order of wear

The current order of wear for orders, decorations and medals, including New Zealand, British, Commonwealth and Foreign can be found here.

Life saving awards

The Order of St John Life Saving medals, in bronze, silver and gold, and the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand (established in 1898) medals, also in bronze, silver and gold, for acts of bravery in saving or attempting to save life, and ribbons denoting the same, may be worn on the right side of the coat on all occasions when official orders, decorations and medals worn.

Wearing of decorations and medals by next of kin or family members

The insignia of any order, decoration or medal, including miniatures, lapel badges and ribbons, may only be worn by the person to whom they were awarded.

There is a convention or custom that is widely understood that the next of kin and other relatives may wear, on the right side only, on ANZAC and similar days of remembrance, the service medals of deceased military personnel. The convention is a matter of personal discretion, is limited to days of remembrance and applies only to service medals and decorations mounted on a medal bar (full-size or miniature) and not neck badges, sashes and badges, or breast stars.

Commonwealth and foreign honours

The Queen’s approval is required before a New Zealand citizen may accept and wear an honour conferred by a Commonwealth nation of which Her Majesty is not Head of State or a foreign nation. The government of the country proposing to confer the honour seeks the approval through diplomatic channels prior to the award being made.

The current rules relating to the acceptance and wearing of Commonwealth, foreign and international honours by New Zealand Citizens can be found here.

The Prime Minister’s approval is required before a New Zealand citizen may accept and wear an honour conferred by The Queen as Head of State of another Commonwealth country. The government of the country proposing to confer the honour seeks the approval through diplomatic channels or the Honours Unit, Cabinet Office.

Awards made by non-governmental and private organisations

Awards issued by non-governmental and private organisations, other than those of the Order of St John and the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand, may not be worn, either with, below or on the right side, with official orders, decorations and medals.

Awards produced on a commercial basis may not be worn, either with, below or on the right side, with official orders, decorations and medals.

Occasions on which to wear insignia

Members of the various orders of chivalry, orders and all persons who have been awarded decorations and medals may, should they wish to do so, wear the insignia on those occasions when the person responsible for a function deems it appropriate for insignia (usually shown on an invitation as ‘Decorations’) to be worn, e.g. when The Queen, a member of the Royal Family or the Governor-General is present. The wearing of insignia, full-size or miniature, however, on any occasion is at the discretion of the holder.

Methods of mounting insignia

For information on how insignia should be worn see the guide to mounting insignia.

Position of abbreviations after a name

Abbreviations (postnominals) indicating royal honours, official appointments and other distinctions should be placed after a name in the following sequence:

  1. orders, decorations and medals (see order of wear for sequence).
  2. Crown appointments e.g. QC, JP, ADC, QHP.
  3. religious orders, e.g. SM, SJ.
  4. academic distinctions, e.g. BA, MSc.
  5. medical qualifications, e.g. FRACS, MRANZCP, LRCP, DPH.
  6. fellowships and memberships of learned societies and institutions, e.g. FRSNZ, ACA, MIPENZ.
  7. official appointments, e.g. MP.
  8. membership of the Armed Forces, e.g. RNZN, RNZA, RNZIR, RNZAF. Retired personnel may add "(Rtd)" or "(rtd)".
Last updated: 
Friday, 1 April 2011

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