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Guide to nominations for New Zealand Gallantry Awards

New Zealand Gallantry Awards and criteria

1. The New Zealand Gallantry Awards are Royal honours. They are designed to recognise acts of gallantry carried out at risk to or sacrifice of life, by members of the New Zealand Armed Forces and support personnel involved in operational service being, for the purpose of these awards, ‘a deployment of personnel, approved by Government, to a situation where New Zealand Defence Force units or personnel are engaged in warlike or non-warlike operations and includes activities designed to restore peace between other elements involved in warlike operations where the expected or potential hazards are greater than those normally encountered in peacetime service’. Acts of gallantry may not necessarily involve the saving of life, and may include those acts which include the taking of life in an offensive operation with an enemy or a belligerent force.

2. The New Zealand Gallantry Awards were instituted by Her Majesty The Queen by Royal Warrant dated 20 September 1999. (See

3. The New Zealand Bravery Awards are primarily for civilians. They may be awarded to military personnel for acts in which Gallantry or other military awards are not appropriate.

4. The four levels of awards and criteria are as follows:

4.1 Victoria Cross for New Zealand (VC): "For most conspicuous gallantry, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy or belligerents".

4.2 The New Zealand Gallantry Star (NZGS): "For acts of outstanding gallantry in situations of danger".

4.3 The New Zealand Gallantry Decoration (NZGD): "For acts of exceptional gallantry in situations of danger".

4.4 The New Zealand Gallantry Medal (NZGM): "For acts of gallantry".

5. A recipient of any Award who performs a further act of gallantry, worthy of recognition by the same Award, may be awarded a Bar to be attached to the ribbon of their Award.

6. All of the above would be for acts while involved in warlike or non-warlike operational service, including peacekeeping operations.

7. The level of an award is generally determined by the nature of the incident which has resulted in the act of gallantry, including the level of threat of the operational service, whether there is any threat caused by an enemy or a belligerent, and if so the level of that threat, the degree of risk to the life of the person performing the act or whether that person’s life has been sacrificed, his or her personal skills and qualifications and whether the actions were taken with disregard for his or her own safety. The extent of the command or leadership demonstrated during the incident should also be evaluated and whether this was at the initiative of the person being nominated or whether they were acting on orders.

8. In making a nomination the proposed level of award recommended may be stated.

Who may make a nomination?

9. Nominations made by Defence Force personnel are to be sent through the unit Commanding Officer or equivalent manager directly to the Manager Honours and Awards at New Zealand Defence Force Headquarters. Nominations are to be made on Form MD592 and accompanied by all relevant supporting documentation.

10. The processing of nominations for Gallantry Awards may take a considerable period of time, especially if the incident for which recognition is sought involves court, Courts martial, coroner or other investigation.

11. Gallantry Awards are not usually included in regular (New Year or Queen’s Birthday) Honours lists. Awards are processed and announced as and when required.

Posthumous awards

12. Unlike awards for merit, the New Zealand Gallantry Awards may be given to persons who are now deceased (ie posthumously). If the nominee is now deceased, the name and address of his or her next of kin must be provided.

Details of the act of Gallantry

13. A nomination for a Gallantry Award must include precise details of the act or acts of gallantry for which recognition is sought.

14. Witness statements, including from Commanding Officers, either originals or certified copies, are helpful.

15. Copies of newspaper or other media reports may be submitted but should not be used as the sole basis of the nomination.

16. Videos or tapes relating to an incident should not be submitted.

Risk to life

17. Nominations should, where possible, include an indication of either the degree of risk to the life of the person being nominated caused by the operational service during which the act of gallantry occurred, including whether the risk to life was caused by the offensive action of an enemy or belligerent, or whether that person’s life was in fact sacrificed in the course of the act of gallantry.

18. The degree of risk to the person may vary according to whether he or she has been involved in service which was warlike service or non-warlike, including peacekeeping and whether there was a risk caused by an enemy or belligerents.

19. If the actions of the nominee were with complete disregard for his or her own safety (selflessness) this should also be stated. Any injuries received by the nominee should be outlined.

20. Nominations which do not involve risk to the nominee’s life are not usually successful. However, such cases may be considered in the context of a New Zealand Royal Honour for meritorious services.

Two or more nominees

21. If more than one person is nominated for the same act of gallantry, a separate form should be completed for each person. The precise part played by each person must be clearly stated.

22. If other nominees were involved in the incident but not nominated for an award, the reasons for the omission should be stated.

Non-New Zealand citizens

23. Persons who are not New Zealand citizens or citizens of Commonwealth countries of which The Queen is Head of State, are eligible to be considered for the New Zealand Gallantry Awards for acts performed while on secondment or attached to the New Zealand Defence Force or serving in support of the New Zealand Defence Force.

24. In the case of a person who is not a New Zealand citizen, the Government of the country of which the nominee is a citizen may need to be consulted by the Honours Unit, Cabinet Office, before an award is made. This consultation process may delay the processing of a nomination.

Consent of the nominee

25. It is not necessary to have the consent of the person being nominated.

Time limits for nominations

26. Nominations for acts of gallantry should normally be made within twelve months of the incident. Nominations relating to events more than five years ago are unlikely to be successful or considered.

Unsuccessful nominations

27. No reasons will be given for unsuccessful nominations.

Confidentiality of Honours

28. All nominations for honours and awards are treated in the strictest confidence. Details of the person making the nomination are not to be disclosed.

New Zealand Bravery Awards

29. Acts involving the saving or attempting to save life while on operational service but which may not be in the presence of an enemy or belligerents, or not considered appropriate for nomination for a Gallantry Award, may be considered for a New Zealand Bravery Award. New Zealand Defence Force personnel are to use form MD592 in making such a nomination. A ‘Guide to Nominations for New Zealand Bravery Awards’ should be obtained.

Merit awards

30.A separate form is available for making an external nomination for an award for meritorious services. New Zealand Defence Force personnel are to use form MD592 in making such a nomination. These awards are announced in the regular New Year and Queen’s Birthday Honours lists.

31. New Zealand Royal Honours for meritorious services are: The Order of New Zealand, The New Zealand Order of Merit (five levels), The Queen’s Service Order and associated Queen’s Service Medal, the New Zealand Antarctic Medal, and the New Zealand Distinguished Service Decoration. New Zealand Defence Force personnel are normally ineligible for The Queen’s Service Order and The Queen’s Service Medal for service.


32. Currently serving New Zealand Defence Force personnel wishing to make enquiries relating to the New Zealand Royal Honours system, including the New Zealand Gallantry Awards, or who wish to make a nomination, should direct any enquiry or nomination, or both, to the Manager Honours and Award, Directorate of Career and Talent Management, Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force.

33. All other enquiries relating to the New Zealand Royal Honours System, including the New Zealand Gallantry Awards and New Zealand Bravery Awards, and nominations, should be directed to the Honours Unit.

Last updated: 
Friday, 1 April 2011

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