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New Zealand Gallantry Awards


The New Zealand Gallantry Awards are designed to recognise those military, and certain other categories of support personnel, who perform acts of gallantry while involved in war and non-warlike operational service (including peacekeeping). Gallantry awards do not necessarily involve the saving or attempting to save the life of another person.

Other eligible persons include members of the Mercantile Marine, crews of civil aircraft and those engaged in work for welfare and philanthropic organisations, such as the Red Cross.

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 danger of the operational service, and whether there is any threat caused by an enemy or a belligerent. The leadership or initiative shown by a person, whether acting under orders or otherwise, may also be taken into account.

The four gallantry awards, instituted by a Royal Warrant dated 20 September 1999, are:

  1. The 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 of belligerents".
  2. The New Zealand Gallantry Star (NZGS)
    "For acts of outstanding gallantry in situations of danger".
  3. The New Zealand Gallantry Decoration (NZGD)
    "For acts of exceptional gallantry in situations of danger".
  4. The New Zealand Gallantry Medal (NZGM)
    "For acts of gallantry".

See the list of those awarded a New Zealand Gallantry Award since 1999.


For guidelines on submitting a nomination: see Guide to nominations for New Zealand Gallantry Awards. 

Design of awards

  1. The VC for NZ is identical in design to, and made of the same Crimean War gunmetal as, the British VC.
  2. The NZGS is a sterling silver eight-pointed star, based on the shape of the proposed Gallipoli Star 1915 which was later abandoned.
  3. The NZGD is a sterling silver cross of four equal points (or a ‘Greek’ cross). The design was inspired by the plain and elegant design of the British MC. Also, those persons killed on the battlefield are usually buried under a plain cross.
  4. The NZGM is a bronze medal bearing on the obverse (front) the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II

Apart from the VC, all awards bear the inscription “FOR GALLANTRY – MO TE TOANGA” on the reverse.

The ribbon of the VC remains the same as the British VC, crimson. The ribbons of the other awards are crimson with additional stripes of white and purple, colours previously associated with the various British awards they replace.

Design and manufacture of Gallantry and Bravery Awards


The design of the gallantry and bravery awards, except for the Victoria Cross for New Zealand, were inspired by the design of the original New Zealand Cross and is the work of the New Zealand Herald of Arms.

Gold crown and fern frond emblem

In the centre of the NZGS, NZGD, NZBS and NZBD is a gold crown within a wreath of gold fern fronds. The crown and fern fronds also appear on the reverse (back) of both medals (NZGM and NZBM). The crown and fern fronds on the New Zealand Cross provided inspiration for this emblem.

Effigy of Queen Elizabeth II

The NZGM and NZBM both bear the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II designed by Mr Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS, FSNAD, of the United Kingdom. The effigy, originally produced for use on coinage, was especially re-modelled by Mr Rank-Broadley for use on the NZBM and NZGM.


The NZC is struck in sterling silver and gold, the stars and decorations are in sterling silver and the two medals in bronze. Thomas Fattorini Ltd, of Birmingham, currently manufacture the gallantry and bravery awards.

Gallantry and Bravery Awards – other issues

Precedence of awards

Under the former British system, the fourth level awards (i.e. Mention in Despatches and The Queen’s Commendations for Brave Conduct and Valuable Service in the Air) were denoted by small ribbon emblems and not accorded any precedence in relation to other decorations and medals. These emblems have been replaced by the New Zealand Gallantry Medal (NZGM) and New Zealand Bravery Medal (NZBM), which have been accorded a precedence immediately after the various British third level awards such as the Military Medal and Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

In the Order of Wear, the VC for New Zealand and NZC both precede all other honours and awards from the Crown, while the Gallantry and Bravery Stars and Decorations precede the comparable British awards they are replacing.


A holder of either a Gallantry or Bravery Award who performs a further act of gallantry or bravery worthy of the same level of award he or she already holds may be awarded a Bar to their award.

Posthumous awards

Persons who lose their life while performing, or as a result of, an act of gallantry or bravery are eligible to receive an appropriate award.

Announcement of awards

Gallantry and Bravery Awards are usually announced outside the regular New Year and King’s Birthday Honours Lists.

Naming of awards

All awards are engraved with the name of the recipient. The NZGS and NZGD have the recipient's name engraved in capital letters on the reverse, along with the date of award. The NZGM has the recipient's name engraved in capital letters on the rim of the medal, along with the date of award.

Lapel badges

A distinctive lapel badge, for everyday wear, is issued to living recipients of both Gallantry and Bravery Awards. This is in line with the lapel badges and policy adopted for the various other distinctive New Zealand honours.

Certificates and citations

Each award is accompanied by a certificate signed by The King and Governor-General and a formal citation setting out the specific reason for the award.

See the order of wear for New Zealand Gallantry and Bravery Awards.

Last updated: 
Monday, 14 November 2022

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