Victoria Cross for New Zealand

Victoria Cross for New Zealand

Infobox Military Award
name= Victoria Cross for New Zealand

caption= Obverse of the medal, bar, and ribbon. Ribbon: 32millimetres, crimson.
awarded_by= New Zealand
type= Military decoration
eligibility= New Zealand military personnel
for= "... most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."Cite web |url= |title=Military Honours and Awards |work=Defence Internet |publisher=UK Ministry of Defence |accessdate=2007-01-30]
status= Currently awarded
established= 20 September 1999
first_award= 2 July 2007
last_award= 2007
total= 1
higher= Highest
same= New Zealand Cross
lower= New Zealand Gallantry Star

The Victoria Cross for New Zealand (VC) is a military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the New Zealand Armed Forces. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and civilians under military command, and is presented to the recipient by the Governor-General of New Zealand during an investiture held at Government House, Wellington. As the highest award for gallantry in New Zealand it takes precedence over other postnominals and medals.Cite web |url= |title=The world's most exclusive club |publisher=Ministry of Defence |date=2007-04-30 |accessdate=2007-06-16]

The original VC was introduced in 1856 by Queen Victoria to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War. The Victoria Cross for New Zealand was established in 1999 and was awarded for the first (and so far only) time on 2 July 2007, to Corporal Bill (Willie) Apiata for actions in 2004. The original medal had been awarded 25 times to 24 individual military personnel from New Zealand; New Zealander Captain Charles Upham receiving a bar. Only 14 medals have been awarded since the end of the Second World War. The medal itself is made from the gunmetal of a weapon supposedly captured at the siege of Sevastopol, but several historians have since questioned the true origin of the gunmetal. Due to its rarity, the VC is highly prized and the medal has been sold for over £200,000 at auction. Originally all Commonwealth personnel were issued with the same award, but in the last 50 years, Commonwealth countries have introduced separate award systems, three of these retain "Victoria Cross" as part of the name of the highest award for gallantry. New Zealand created a new award system that replaced several Commonwealth Honours with separate awards.


Victoria Cross

The original Victoria Cross was created by Royal warrant by Queen Victoria in 1856. It was created to recognise incidents of gallantry that were unconnected with a man's lengthy or meritorious service. Queen Victoria signed a Royal Warrant on 29 January 1856 that officially recognised the VC. VCH, Ashcroft, Introduction] The order was backdated to 1854 to recognise acts of valour during the Crimean War. [Ashcroft, Michael, p.7–10]

The Australian and New Zealand Victoria Crosses are made from the same gunmetal as the originals. It was originally intended that the VCs would be cast from the bronze of two cannons that were captured from the Russians at the siege of Sevastopol.Beharry, p.359] [cite web |url=| title=Hancocks of London History of VC | publisher=Hancocks of London | accessdate= 2007-06-24] The historian John Glanfield has since proven through the use of X-Rays of older Victoria Crosses that the metal used for VCs is in fact from antique Chinese guns and not of Russian origin.Cite news |url= |title=Author explodes myth of the gunmetal VC |last=Davies |first=Catronia |publisher=The Daily Telegraph |date=2005-12-28 |accessdate=2007-06-16] [cite web |url=| title=Hancocks of London history of VC |publisher=Hancocks of London |accessdate= 2007-06-24]

The barrels of the cannon in question are stationed outside the Officers' Mess at the Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich. The remaining portion of the only remaining cascabel, weighing 10 kilograms (385 oz), is stored in a vault maintained by 15 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps at Donnington, Telford. It can only be removed under armed guard. It is estimated that approximately 80 to 85 more VCs could be cast from this source. A single company of jewellers, Hancocks of London, has been responsible for the production of every VC awarded since its inception. [cite web| url= | title=Hancocks Jewellers |publisher=Hancocks of London| accessdate=2007-06-16]

eparate Commonwealth awards

In the last 20 years several Commonwealth countries have introduced their own honours systems, separate from the British Honours System. Australia, Canada and New ZealandCite web |url= |title=New Zealand Honours |publisher=Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet |accessdate=2007-01-30] have each introduced their own decorations for gallantry and bravery, replacing British decorations such as the Military Cross with their own awards. Most Commonwealth countries, however, still recognise some form of the VC as their highest decoration for valour.LondonGazette|issue=56878|supp=yes|notarchive=yes|startpage=3351|endpage=3355|date=17 March 2003|accessdate=2007-11-28 The Gazette containing the most up-to-date Order of Precedence]

Australia was the first Commonwealth nation to create its own VC, on 15 January 1991. Although it is a separate award, its appearance is identical to its British counterpart. [cite web |url= |title=The Victoria Cross for Australia |publisher=The Government of Australia |accessdate=2007-06-30] Canada followed suit when in 1993 Queen Elizabeth signed Letters Patent creating the Canadian VC, which is also similar to the British version, except that the legend has been changed from FOR VALOUR to the Latin PRO VALORE.cite news| url= |title=Top military honour now cast in Canada | |first News staff |publisher=CTV news |date=2007-03-03 |accessdate=2007-06-24] The New Zealand and Australiancite web |url= |title=The Victoria Cross for Australia |publisher=The Government of Australia |accessdate=2007-06-30] awards are still made by the jewellers Hancocks from the gunmetal captured during the Crimean War. The Canadian VC however, is not, and it is currently made by a jeweller using a metal from an unspecified source.

New Zealand was the third country to create the VC as part of its own honours system. On 21 September 1999, it was announced by the then Prime Minister Ms Shipley that the Queen had approved the formal institution of a new range of Royal awards to recognise acts of gallantry and bravery performed by New Zealanders. The awards were designed to be the final major element in the development of a distinct New Zealand Royal honours system.

The start of the process came with proposals released in 1995 by the "Honours Advisory Committee" that reviewed the honours system. Until May 1996, New Zealand made recommendations for various British awards for acts of gallantry performed during military operations and acts of bravery by civilians including the Victoria Cross and George Cross. However, the British Government's review and simplification of their awards system provided an ideal opportunity for New Zealand to also develop a unique and simplified system.


The Victoria Cross for New Zealand is identical to the original design. The decoration is a cross pattée, 41 millimetres high, 36 millimetres wide, bearing a crown surmounted by a lion, and the inscription FOR VALOUR. [Original Warrant, Clause 1: "Firstly. It is ordained that the distinction shall be styled and designated "The Victoria Cross", and shall consist of a Maltese cross of bronze, with our Royal crest in the centre, and underneath with an escroll bearing the inscription "For Valour"."] This was originally to have been FOR BRAVERY, until it was changed on the recommendation of Queen Victoria, who thought some might erroneously consider that only the recipients of the VC were brave in battle.cite web |url= |title=150 years of the Victoria Cross |publisher=Royal Naval Museum |accessdate=2007-06-18] The decoration, suspension bar and link weigh about 27 grams (0.87 troy ounces). [Ashcroft, Michael, p.16]

The cross is suspended by a ring from a seriffed "V" to a bar ornamented with laurel leaves, through which the ribbon passes. The reverse of the suspension bar is engraved with the recipient's name, rank, number and unit. On the reverse of the medal is a circular panel on which the date of the act for which it was awarded is engraved in the centre.cite web | url=| title=The Victoria Cross | work=Vietnam Veterans Of Australia| accessdate=2007-06-15 ] The ribbon is crimson, 38 millimetres (1.5 inches) wide. Although the warrants state the colour as being red it is defined by most commentators as being crimson or "wine-red". [cite web | url= | title=The Victoria Cross | work=Imperial War Museum Exhibits and Firearms Collections | accessdate=2006-09-30 ]

Awarding the medal

The Victoria Cross for New Zealand is awarded for cquote|"... most conspicuous gallantry, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy or belligerents."

The power of awarding the medal officially resides with the Queen of New Zealand. The Royal Warrant states that the "Awards of a New Zealand Gallantry Award and of a Bar to an Award shall be made by Us, Our Heirs and Successors, only on a recommendation by Our Prime Minister of New Zealand or a Minister of the Crown acting for Our Prime Minister."cite web |url= |title=Royal Warrant |publisher=NZDF | accessdate=2007-08-02] As with the original Victoria Cross any recommendations will pass through the military hierarchy to the Minister of Defence.

The original Victoria Cross had been awarded to 24 New Zealanders. [Some recipients were serving with purely British units at the time of their award] Thirteen of these awards were for action in the First World War. The Victoria Cross for New Zealand has been awarded once. It was officially announced on 2 July 2007cite web |url= |title=Full citation for Bill Apiata |publisher=NZDF| date=2007-07-02 |accessdate=2007-08-02] that Corporal Bill (Willie) Apiata of the NZ SAS was awarded the Victoria Cross for New Zealand for his actions in saving the life of a "comrade under heavy fire from opposing forces" during the Afghanistan conflict in 2004.cite web| url= |title=Gallantry in Afghanistan |publisher=NZ Government through news agency |accessdate=2007-07-01] cite web| url= |title=Press kit related to july 2007 gallantry awards (NZ) |publisher=NZ Government through news agency |accessdate=2007-07-01] Bill Apiata received his medal from Governor-General Anand Satyanand with the approval of the Queen at a ceremony held at Government House, Wellington on 26 July 2007. cite news |url=| title=Willie Apiata receives his VC |publisher=NZ Herald |date=2007-07-26 |accessdate=2007-08-03]



* cite book
last = Ashcroft
first = Michael
authorlink = Michael Ashcroft
title = Victoria Cross Heroes
publisher = Headline Book Publishing
year = 2006
doi =
isbn =0755316320

* cite book
last = Beharry
first = Johnson
authorlink = Johnson Beharry
title = barefoot soldier
publisher = Sphere
year = 2006
doi =
isbn =0-316-73321-0

Further reading

* cite book
last =
first =
authorlink =
title = The Register of the Victoria Cross
publisher = This England
year = 1997
doi =
isbn =0-906324-03-3

* cite book
last = Duckers
first = Peter
authorlink =
title = British Gallantry Awards, 1855-2000
publisher = Shire Publications Ltd
year = 2006
doi =
isbn = 0747805164

* cite book
last = Glanfield
first = John
authorlink =
title = Bravest of the Brave
publisher = Sutton Publishing Ltd
year = 2005
doi =
isbn =0750936959

* cite book
last = Harvey
first = David
authorlink = David Charles Harvey
title = Monuments to Courage
publisher = Naval & Military Press Ltd
year = 2000
doi =
isbn =1843423561

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