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New Zealand Operational Service Medal - Background

New Zealand Operational Service Medal

The New Zealand Operational Service Medal (NZOSM) was instituted in 2002 to be awarded to New Zealand personnel who have served in operations since 3 September 1945.

The NZOSM follows the same principles as the New Zealand War Service Medal 1939-45, which was awarded once only to New Zealanders who served in the Second World War regardless of where they served. Campaign stars denoted where people served.

Personnel who have been awarded a medal for operational service since 3 September 1945 qualify for the NZOSM. As with the New Zealand War Service Medal, the NZOSM is awarded once only, regardless of how many times an individual has deployed on operations.

The NZOSM is worn before all other operational medals awarded since 3 September 1945.

The NZOSM is silver-plated. On the obverse, the New Zealand Coat of Arms indicates that the medal specifically recognises service on behalf of New Zealand.

The reverse of the medal depicts a kiwi, facing or moving to the right, with below a wavy line and the inscription “FOR OPERATIONAL SERVICE”. The lines below the kiwi’s feet represent land, the wavy line represents sea and the background field represents air, providing an overall allusion to the movement of New Zealand military personnel by land, sea and air.

The colours of the ribbon allude to those generally regarded as the national colours of New Zealand, black and white. These colours were first adopted by the New Zealand troops in the South African War (1899-1902). The colours were used for the New Zealand War Service Medal 1939-45, the New Zealand Service Medal 1946-1949 and the East Timor Medal. The distinctive design makes the statement that it is a New Zealand medal. When worn and overlapped with other medals the distinctive design remains visible.

The New Zealand Herald of Arms, Mr Phillip O’Shea, LVO, designed the NZOSM. Mr O’Shea has designed most New Zealand awards instituted since 1973 including the Queen’s Service Order and the New Zealand Order of Merit, and campaign medals such as the New Zealand General Service Medal and the East Timor Medal.


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