A general term used to describe something that is given to a person as recognition for gallantry, bravery or service. It may also describe the act of giving, or presentation.


A full-width metal device worn on the ribbon of a decoration or medal to signify an additional award of the decoration or medal at the same level. These are usually associated with awards for gallantry, bravery and distinguished and meritorious service.


Facing and enduring danger or pain, or both, in an admirable or commendable manner in a dangerous situation, in an effort to save the life of another person.

Campaign medal

A medal awarded for both warlike and non-warlike operational service. A campaign medal is granted for the same categories of service as a war medal and for peacekeeping operations.


A descriptive note accompanying the announcement of an honour or award. A citation describes the service or acts performed by the person that have resulted in the award being made.

An award, usually in the form of a distinctive ribbon or other dress distinction, recognising gallantry, bravery or meritorious service by a unit or individual.


A full-width metal device worn on the ribbon of medals. A clasp indicates one of the following:

  1. the geographical area of a campaign,
  2. an additional period of qualifying service, or
  3. the date of an honour or award.

Commemoration medal

A medal issued to recognise specific national event.


A means of recognising a significant act or period of service by a unit or individual that does not involve the award of a decoration or medal. A commendation may be denoted by a ribbon, ribbon device or emblem worn on the uniform or jacket lapel.


Ability to face danger or pain without fear.


A term usually used to describe awards for gallantry and bravery, or senior honours for military personnel, other than membership of an order. For example: the Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD) and the New Zealand Bravery Medal (NZBM).


A defined segment on the lower reverse of a decoration or medal, in which it is normal to find the name of the decoration or medal, or the name of the recipient.

Foreign award

An order, decoration or medal awarded by any country that is not a member of the Commonwealth, or of which the Sovereign is not Head of State.


Enduring great danger during warlike or non-warlike operational service, including peacekeeping, usually in the presence of belligerents or an enemy, in an admirable or commendable manner. Extraordinary command or leadership may have been demonstrated during an act of gallantry.

Most Conspicuous Gallantry – Actions of the highest possible level or ultimate standard which may be difficult to surpass (The Victoria Cross and the Victoria Cross for New Zealand).

Outstanding Gallantry – Actions of a high or conspicuous standard and very worthy of note (The New Zealand Gallantry Star).

Exceptional Gallantry – Actions which are unusual and stand out as being worthy of commendation (The New Zealand Gallantry Decoration).

Extraordinary Command or Leadership – Includes decisions or actions that ensured the achievement of the operational objectives of saving life in hazardous or life threatening situations.


A. An appointment to an order, or the award of a decoration, medal or commendation, approved for or made in the name of the Sovereign in recognition of services to the nation, or for an act of gallantry or bravery.

B. An order, decoration, medal or commendation conferred by a head of state, head of government or recognised international organisation.


The various collars, neck and breast badges, medals, breast stars, sashes, ribbon, lapel badges, rosettes and presentation cases that denote the award of a Royal Honour as well as the different classes of membership of an order.

Long Service Awards 

Awards recognising a lengthy period of uniformed service (usually an aggregate of 10 or more years) in one or more of the services. For Reserve forces personnel, ‘efficiency’ is also a requirement. This category includes awards with ‘efficiency’ in the name.


Usually a flat piece of metal with an effigy of the Sovereign (or a national coat of arms) on one side and an appropriate design on the other side. Given as an award to recognise service to the nation, to commemorate a significant event, or to recognise an act of gallantry or bravery. A medal may be associated with an order, For example the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM).


Mentioned in Despatches (Dispatches) describes a member of the armed forces whose name appears in an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command for which their gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy is described. Those who are MiD receive a certificate and wear an oak leaf device on the ribbon of the appropriate campaign medal.


A reproduction of the full-size insignia of an order, decoration or medal, as well as any associated bars and clasps; usually not exceeding half size of the full-size insignia.

Non-operational award

An honour or award conferred in recognition of service of a non-operational nature. For example New Zealand Defence Service Medal.


Military activities in which casualties are not expected, including peacekeeping or sanctions-enforcing missions in benign situations, disaster relief in locations where there are belligerents or other hostile groups, observer activities and other hazardous activities.


The side of a piece of insignia of an order, decoration or medal that is seen by an observer when worn. In the case of a medal it usually bears the effigy of the Sovereign or the New Zealand Coat of Arms.

Operational award 

An award conferred in recognition of service on operations. For example: a campaign/war medal.

Operational service 

Service that exceeds the normal requirements of peacetime service, and which involves a credible military threat from enemy military forces, insurgents, or other hostile forces. The NZDF defines three categories of operational service: hazardous, non-warlike and warlike.


A ‘society of honour’ instituted by the Sovereign. The structures of orders vary according to the purpose for which they are instituted. Some have several classes of membership, others only one. Persons are appointed to an order and must be living at that time. Membership ceases on the death of that member. For example: The New Zealand Order of Merit.

Order of chivalry

An order, membership of the top levels which permits a person to use a title e.g. Sir or Dame.

Post-nominal letters

The approved letters placed after an individual’s name to indicate honours and awards, official appointments and other distinctions, such as educational qualifications, service or corps.


The side of a piece of insignia of an order, decoration or medal that is unseen by the observer when worn. In the case of a medal it usually bears a design relevant to the purpose of the award.


A. The coloured fabric from which a badge of an order, decoration or medal is suspended for wear or display, usually from the neck or chest. Ribbon colours are a means of identifying an honour or award.

B. Denotes an award to an individual when worn on a uniform without the badge, decoration or medal affixed.

Ribbon device

An emblem (usually metal) affixed to a ribbon to denote additional; service, service of a special type, or a distinction of some kind.


A form of a ribbon device in the shape of a stylised rose. Its meaning varies according to regulations of the award to which it is affixed.

Royal Honour

Every honour approved by the Sovereigns past and present for acceptance and wear by New Zealand citizens.


The name given to someone on receipt of an honour. For example: Sir and Dame.

Unofficial award

Any award not recognised by the Sovereign that is issued by a public or private organisation. This includes medals and badges produced on a commercial basis or for charitable purposes.


Great bravery especially in battle.


For the purposes of medallic recognition, it means being in a state of declared war, or in conventional combat operations against an armed adversary, or in peace enforcement between belligerents who have not consented to any intervention.

War medal

Medal recognising military campaigns and other organisations that have entailed danger to life from enemy action, or special operations against an enemy, or a medal that is granted for specified service in a non-operational command during a state of war. This term has been superseded by a campaign medal.