How to wear a medal 

How to wear a medal 

Take a look at the New Zealand Royal Honours system and how it works. Learn the correct way to mount and wear medals. Did you know there is a specific order to wearing medals?

An honours system recognises the achievements of, and service by, individuals to a nation. New Zealand used the British Honours System until 1975, when it was progressively replaced by New Zealand Honours. The system is a structure of orders, decorations, and medals for those in the military and for civilians.  

Each honours system ranks the importance of the awards – this is called a ‘precedence’. The Victoria Cross holds the highest precedence in the New Zealand system – it is the highest military award for the most extreme level of courage in the face of the enemy.   

Precedence dictates the order in which medals are mounted and worn. This is known as the ‘order of wear’. There are a number of major categories, and each category also has a hierarchy. The order of wear rules are complex, sometimes depending on the seniority of the award and other times by date. 

Medals can only be worn by the recipients, or their close relatives. Recipients should wear them on the left of the chest. Family members can wear a relative’s medals on special occasions if the recipient has died, but they should be worn on the right of the chest.  

Official H Series. Presentation of medals to men of the N.Z. Contingent by Gen. Godley. PH-ALB-418-H114.

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Collecting Medals

Collecting Medals

Collecting medals is a popular pastime. Worldwide there is a huge number of medals and awards that can be collected, so most collectors have a particular focus. Perhaps there is a family connection, or interest in a regiment. Or interest in a particular war or campaign, which means the possibility of collecting medals from both sides of the conflict. But there may be other reasons to collect. Is it a love of history and the stories of the recipients, or is it because medals are rare and there is the thrill of the chase?  

Brent Mackrell got the collecting bug in 1957 when he was only eight years old. His big plan was to collect all British campaign medals from the 17th century to the present day. Realising just how big, and how expensive that would be, he decided to create the most comprehensive collection of medals and decorations awarded to New Zealanders. Brent also collected and documented the memories and stories associated with each medal, where possible. His collection includes scrapbooks, photographs, and log books from the New Zealand Wars to the end of World War II. Brent gave his collection to Auckland Museum in 2001. 

Like Brent, the Museum collects medals of New Zealanders involved in war. Although our collection also includes British campaign medals and medals awarded by other countries where the recipients, or their families, eventually came to New Zealand.  

Fun fact: people who collect medals, badges, awards, and decorations are called ‘falerists’. 

Military Cross awarded in 1945 to Major George Ramsay Andrews, DCM, 2NZEF, (1910-90) (detail).

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