Background: Instituted in 1999 as part of the new honours system replacing awards from the UK. The New Zealand Gallantry Awards are designed to recognise those military, and certain other categories of support personnel, who perform acts of gallantry while involved in war and non-warlike operational service (including peacekeeping). This decoration is the second highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemey and directly replaces the DCM, CGM, CGM (Flying) and the DSO where that medal was awarded for gallantry. Other eligible persons include members of the Mercantile Marine, crews of civil aircraft and those engaged in work for welfare and philanthropic organisations, such as the Red Cross. Only one award has been made of this medal so far to Colonel NJ Reilly of the New Zealand Army for gallantry in East Timor in 1999.

Design: The NZGS is a silver eight-pointed star, based on the shape of the proposed Gallipoli Star 1915 which was later abandoned. In the centre of the NZGS is a gold crown within a wreath of gold fern fronds and the reverse bears the inscription “FOR GALLANTRY – MO TE TOANGA”. The ribbon is crimson with additional stripes of white and purple, colours previously associated with the various British awards they replace.