The museum provides a medal repository for all medals awarded to servicemen and women within the New Zealand military as well as some overseas military memorabilia. The museum’s primary focus is medals, honours and awards associated with the New Zealand Army, but it also includes medals and medal groups from other forces.
On display within the museum is a collection of over 10,000 individual medals, the majority donated from the descendants of the original recipients. As well as the high gallantry awards like the New Zealand Cross, the Victoria Cross, the Albert Medal and the more-recent George Cross, the museum is home to specimen, foreign and miniature medals, plus assorted military badges and awards.
The medals held are categorised into various temporary and permanent displays including but not limited to:
The medals are stored and displayed in a vault-like medal repository that enables visitors and families of soldiers to look up and view the medals up-close.
For more information about medals and medal ribbons, wearing medals, medal posters and the medals awarded to New Zealand military personnel since the New Zealand Wars of the 1840s and 1860s, please visit the New Zealand Defence Force Medals page.
As a Registered Charitable Trust, the National Army Museum Te Mata Toa acknowledges its responsibilities as holders, trustees and kaitiaki/guardians of these unique medal collections on behalf of the people of New Zealand. We depend on the generosity of the public to continue to preserve and develop this nationally significant collection. For information, medal donations, or to show your support for the New Zealand National Army Museum Te Mata Toa please contact us.
Victoria Cross (VC): The VC is the British Commonwealth’s highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy and is made of bronze from the poorest-quality gunmetal. It is cast in sand, hand-chiselled and engraved. Each medal is unique in some respect, making no two alike. It is perhaps fitting then that this award be hung from a plain crimson ribbon commemorating a unique act of heroism.
New Zealand Cross (NZC): The NZC was an award for outstanding acts of gallantry by New Zealand volunteers. The award had become necessary as it was almost impossible for locally raised troops to be awarded the Empire’s highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross. 23 awards of the New Zealand Cross had been made, before the entitlement to the Victoria Cross was changed and New Zealanders became eligible for that award, making it one of the rarest gallantry decorations in the world.
Albert Medal (AM) and George Cross (GC): The AM was to be awarded for daring and heroic actions in saving life at sea. In 1877 it was further expanded to include actions on land. The Medal was then discontinued in 1971. At this time, all living recipients were to exchange their awards for the George Cross, which was now deemed, would supersede the Albert Medal. Randolph Ridling requested that he be permitted to retain his medal as it had great sentimental value and the Queen approved his request. His medal is displayed in this alcove. The GC was an award for civilians “only for acts of the greatest heroism or the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger”. Further, the standard for the award was as high as – and its status equal to – the Victoria Cross. It was also to be awarded to members of the services whose acts of gallantry were not in the face of the enemy.