New Zealand Medal (1869)

Era: 1845 - 1866

The New Zealand Medal (1845-1847 and 1860-1866) was sanctioned on 1st March 1869, as a campaign medal awarded to Imperial and Colonial troops. It was issued to the survivors only who had taken part in suppressing the Mari rising in the New Zealand Wars (also known as the Maori Wars, Anglo-Maori Wars or Land Wars) in North Island between 1845 and 1846, and those in the South Island in 1847, and service in New Zealand between 1860 and 1866.

The Imperial forces included British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Marines. The Colonial militia were recruited locally or in Australia, and included mobile forces like Von Tempskys Forest Rangers and the Arawa Flying Column from a Maori tribe for the guerrilla war in the New Zealand bush.

This medal is extremely difficult to itemise, due to the fact that it is a dated medal and was not awarded for any particular action, or actions, but for services in the area during a time period.  The Maori proved to be a very gallant enemy and one whose fortifications were impregnable to everything except artillery fire.

There were twenty-eight different sorts of New Zealand medals issued, twenty-seven of these the dates of different periods of service.  There was also an undated medal issued for those whose service dates were no longer recorded which might serve for any of the other twenty-seven.

Colonial militia claimants had to prove that they had been under fire. Claims from colonial forces were closed in 1900 but reopened in 1910 and 1913 in association with land claims for service in the war. Claims were finally closed for Europeans in 1915 and Maori in 1916.


Materials:      The majority of the British medals and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issue in bronze versions, mainly to Indian non-combatants.  The majority of the British campaign awards are circular, usually 36mm in diameter.

Ribbons:         Medals are worn suspended from their own specific ribbons. These were first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the nineteenth century developed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the equal stripes of the ‘1939 to 1945 Star,’ for example, are dark blue to represent the service of the Royal and Merchant Navies, red, to represent that of the Armies and light blue to represent that of Air Forces.

Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide.

Ribbon –  32mm Wide, dark blue ribbon with a red centre.

New Zealand Medal ribbon
New Zealand Medal ribbon

Suspender – Ornate; New Zealand fern fronds

Type – Campaign Medal.

Eligibility – British and Colonial forces.

Awarded for – Campaign Service.

Campaign –  New Zealand Wars 1845-47 and 1860-66

Established – 1869

Designer – J.S. Wyon and A. B. Wyon.

Naming –  Indented in very small neat capitals.  Some medals where engraved by the recipients on the edge.

Total Awarded – 4,400 distinct recipients

Clasps – None Issued

Description – the medal is 36mm in diameter and made of Bronze or silver.  The obverse is the diademed head of Queen Victoria with a veil covering the back of her head.  Around the circumference of the medal is the legend ‘VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D :’  The reverse has a laurel wreath within the centre usually a year or year range from either the first or second period, and between the wreath and the edge ‘NEW ZEALAND’ (above wreath) and ‘VIRTUTIS HONOR’ (Honour of valour; below wreath). Generally the colonial militia medals are undated, and a few specimens are known with '1846 to 1865'. A year range is given as ‘1863 / to / 1865’ (in three lines) and unusually for 19th century British medals the year(s) are die struck in the centre.


This guide will help you through all the parts and descriptions of military medals


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’

Some of the material on this page was also partially derived from

< New_Zealand_Medal>

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