23 April 2002
Two further medallic grievances have been addressed, Veterans' Affairs Minister Mark Burton announced today.
"All overseas deployments in the past 50 years are being reviewed to identify those instances where appropriate New Zealand medallic recognition may not have been given," Mark Burton said.
"This has already seen medals awarded to personnel who served in half a dozen operations ranging from service on Achilles and Gambia in 1945 off Japan, to Air Force service in Rwanda in 1994.
"The latest announcements relate to the deployment of RNZN frigates on the "Armilla" patrol in the Arabian Sea in 1982-1983, and to New Zealand personnel who have served with the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai since 1982.
The Armilla patrols occurred during the Iran-Iraq war, when the Royal Navy deployed a task group to protect merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean between 1980 and 1989. At the time of the Falklands War, the New Zealand Government agreed to contribute ships to Operation Armilla, thus releasing a British ship for service in the South Atlantic. HMNZ Ships Waikato and Canterbury were both deployed twice to the RN Task Group in 1982 and 1983, conducting patrols and monitoring merchant shipping and belligerent activities near the Gulf of Oman.
"It is estimated that 600 New Zealand navy personnel will be eligible for an New Zealand General Service Medal, clasp "Indian Ocean"," Mark Burton said.
Mark Burton also announced that New Zealand personnel would now be able to accept and wear the MFO Medal without restriction.
“The MFO Medal is awarded to members of the New Zealand Defence Force who serve with the MFO peacekeeping force in the Sinai. The MFO monitors compliance with the peace treaty signed between Israel and Egypt in March 1979, which provided for Israel to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula.
“New Zealand has contributed personnel to the Force since 1982, and since that time over 700 Defence Force personnel have served in the Sinai. Until now New Zealanders have been able to accept but not wear the MFO Medal. This approval means that the MFO Medal will have the same status as medals from other international organisations such as the United Nations and NATO.
“Although the New Zealand General Service Medal has been awarded for service in the Sinai, the lack of full acceptance of the MFO Medal has led to a feeling amongst many that their service has not been fully recognised. The Prime Minister, under a dispensation from The Queen, has now approved the wearing on the MFO Medal by New Zealand personnel," Mark Burton said.
Eligible personnel are already in possession of the MFO medal, but veterans or their next of kin who believe they may be eligible for the New Zealand General Service Medal, clasp “Indian Ocean” may apply for the medal by writing to:
Staff Officer Medals
Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force
Private Bag 905
As many as possible of the following details should be provided:
Full forename(s) and surname
Details of RNZN service