Defence Minister, Ron Mark has welcomed the news that Her Majesty The Queen has approved a range of changes to the New Zealand Defence Force long service awards system.
“A fairer system has been developed to recognise the vital contribution Regular Force and Reserve Force military personnel make by serving the New Zealand Government and the public,” said Mr Mark.
“The changes will resolve a range of legitimate grievances held by both serving and ex-serving personnel, relating to inconsistencies in the eligibility criteria between the various awards.
“The eligibility criteria changes will immediately qualify about 650 current military personnel for their first long service award, and entitle more than 1700 other current military personnel to a clasp to a long service award they have already received.”
The Minister said up to 4000 ex-Service persons would also now qualify for a long service award and/or clasp(s).
“Previously, the service of many former military members could not be recognised and honoured by means of a long service award, but now they will be able to show that they have served their country in uniform,” said Mr Mark.
“Our Defence Force recognises and rewards excellence. It is only right that we celebrate these achievements and that military personnel are recognised for the contribution they make to benefit New Zealand.”
Details of the changes
While the 10 existing long service awards remain, the entitlement criteria have been modernised to allow different types of New Zealand military service to be accumulated towards any award: both Regular and Reserve Force service can be combined.
Regular Force military personnel will now only require 14 years’ service for an award and seven years for each clasp (compared to the previous requirement for 15 years for the award and for each clasp).
Other changes are as follows:
- The length of qualifying service is now the same as for the other uniformed government agencies that award long service awards through the NZ Royal Honours system: New Zealand Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, New Zealand Customs Service and New Zealand Prison Service.
- The type of long service award issued will reflect the majority of each recipient’s service up to the point in time when they completed the qualifying service for an award.
- The requirement for continuous service has been removed from the Reserve Force awards.
- Eligibility for the New Zealand Armed Forces Award (for Regular Force officers of all three Services) has been extended to include Regular Force officers who served between 6 February 1952 and 30 November 1977. These officers were the only group of attested New Zealand Armed Forces personnel who served between 1952 and 1977 who were previously not eligible for a long service award. The start date of 6 February 1952 is when Her Majesty acceded to the throne.
The changes have been backdated to apply to any person serving in the New Zealand Armed Forces on or after 1 December 1977. This is the same start date as under the 1985 Royal Warrants which have been replaced this year by new Royal Warrants.
More information on the changes to the eligibility criteria can be found on the NZDF Medals website: https://medals.nzdf.mil.nz.
Ex-service persons need to apply using the application form on the NZDF Medals website: https://medals.nzdf.mil.nz. Current serving military personnel do not need to apply as any eligibility will be processed automatically.