Black mark for breaching medal protocols

New Minister of Defence Ron Mark is seeking advice after it has been claimed he is breaching military medal wearing protocols.

NZH:  Medals off Mark for new defence minister – says he will ‘seek advice’ after questions raised

New defence minister Ron Mark has been wearing military medals in a way which puts his foreign service above that which he performed for New Zealand.

The way Mark has his medals arrayed across his chest is in breach of NZ Defence Force protocols and not permitted for soldiers over whom he holds sway.

And it has led to questions about whether he is even entitled to wear the four medals awarded while in the service of the Sultan of Oman in the Middle East.

Mark would not answer those questions yesterday, but provided a statement in which he said: “I have the greatest respect for military service, and the way in which it is recognised. I am proud of the people I served alongside in both the New Zealand and Omani Defence Forces.

“I have sought advice from the Honours Unit on the wearing of the medals I was awarded, and will take that advice when it’s received.”

It is an embarrassment for Mark, having worn his medals in front of senior officers who knew he was breaching the standards expected of all New Zealand military personnel.

Mark wore his medals when being sworn in as defence minister, and again at the opening of Parliament – and also on Sunday at a service for Armistice Day in Wellington.

At that event, he was present with the Chief of the Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating and among troops at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

The wearing of medals from a foreign country are strictly governed, with sets of rules for NZDF personnel and all New Zealand citizens.

Anyone wanting to wear medals from a country which does not have the Queen as head of state needs the permission of the Governor-General.

If Mark did have permission – which medals’ experts believe is unlikely – he has been caught out by the way he wore them.

The rules around wearing medals dictate that those earned in the service of New Zealand must be worn first.

Mark wears his medals from service in Oman first, giving them a pre-eminent position over his New Zealand medals.

NZ Medals Ltd owner Aubrey Bairstow – an expert in constructing medal boards – said: “His Oman medals must be after his New Zealand medals.”

Bairstow constantly deals with military veterans and said many were upset by the way the medals had been displayed.

This seems to be something Mark should have known about, or should have properly clarified before or or as soon as becoming Minister of Defence. Actually he should have got it right before then.



  1. NOEL

     /  November 16, 2017
    Wonder who the Vietnam Veteran is?
    Probably wears the NZ General Service Medal (Warlike) which was struck to recognise service where no NZ Campaign medal was issued.

  2. Missy

     /  November 16, 2017

    My opinion is, permission from GG or not, I don’t think he should wear his Omani medals when serving as Minister of Defence for NZ. But that is just me, I just don’t believe a Minister for NZ should wear any medals – or anything for that matter – that shows allegiance to another country, especially not another country’s military.

  3. George

     /  November 16, 2017

    Can I refer any-one with a complaint as to the tin medals Marks displays to
    He should know better

    • Missy

       /  November 16, 2017

      I don’t think there is any dispute about the legitimacy of his medals, just in the way he wore them, putting the Omani medals before the NZ medals.

      If he was an imposter I doubt he would have worn them in front of the CDF who would have been serving at the same time as Mark, and would also have access to his personnel file, and therefore would know if the medals were legitimate or not. Mark may be arrogant, but I don’t think he is that stupid – though I could be wrong.

  4. Blazer

     /  November 16, 2017

    permission of the GG!Give me a break..NZ in 2017.

    • Missy

       /  November 16, 2017

      Whose permission should they get then Blazer?

      Military personnel are in service to the Queen, they require her (or her representatives) permission to wear any medals that were not earned in her service. Not difficult to understand.

      • Missy

         /  November 16, 2017


        (sorry to the grammar pedants for missing the apostrophe)

      • Blazer

         /  November 16, 2017

        a Republic is not difficult to understand,either.

        • Missy

           /  November 16, 2017

          But we are not a Republic, the Queen is our head of state, and her – and her representative – are who the military serve.

          If we were a republic then they would require the permission of the President, so no different really, permission of the head of state to wear medals awarded by a foreign power.

        • You didn’t even support the first baby step of a flag change as I recall. You’re a long way off from a republic

          • artcroft

             /  November 16, 2017

            Yes! very partisan politics by the Left over the flag. 😦

            • Corky

               /  November 16, 2017

              A slinger who doesn’t know which iron he’s going for on the draw, is asking for a toe tag, sooner rather than later, Arty

    • Ray

       /  November 16, 2017

      It was only last week that Ron swore an oath to the Queen Blazer.
      Though this is just more proof of a lefties lack of memory cells!
      As for incorrect wearing of medals a raw recruit knows better, not a good start.

      • What can we expect from a little man from the mechanics pool who thinks he’s a Green Beret with a Purple Heart

  5. Are his Oman SSF medals mercenary ones?

  6. PDB

     /  November 16, 2017

    Mark has form in this sort of thing by suggesting he was SAS in the past when he never wore the badge.

    His old NZL First bio (2015): “In 1982 he was selected for service with the NZSAS, and as one of five New Zealand Army officers was sent to assist in setting up a new peace keeping mission in Israel and Egypt. He completed two back to back tours and was repatriated in 1983.”

    Anyone reading that would assume he was NZSAS, went peace-keeping as an SAS officier and did two tours.

    His latest NZL First bio: In 1982, as a mechanical engineering officer, he successfully completed the NZSAS selection course and was one of five New Zealand Army officers sent to assist in setting up a new multi-national peace keeping operation the Sinai desert. Ron completed two back to back tours and was repatriated in 1983, but was refused permission by his corps to be posted to NZSAS to complete his training – a decision which resulted in Ron leaving the NZ Army in 1985 as a Captain and taking up an offer of service with the Sultan of Oman’s Land Forces and the Sultan’s Special Force in the Dhofar.

    Now he is being honest (after being caught out) in that he only completed the NZSAS selection course and DIDN’T serve for the NZSAS THOUGH it’s still a little confusing and easily misread if skimmed through.

  7. Corky

     /  November 16, 2017

    They are big on stolen valour overseas. Notice the policeman say service personnel should not be wearing uniforms in public because of the terrorist threat..

    Somebody tell me the terrorists aren’t winning.

    ps- this is a side issue to the above topic.

  8. NOEL

     /  November 16, 2017

    Medals are about context in addition to protocol.
    In July 1972 I returned from a task and was told to smarten myself up, remove my headdress and step into line with two other soldiers. My initial thought was “what the hell have I done this time”.
    Instead of heading to the NZ CO we marched into the ARVN Liaison Officers office where I was awarded a South Vietnamese award.
    On return to NZ the new unit clerk came up to me and said “Corp you have another write up on your Regimental Conduct Sheet.”
    I took that to mean it was official.
    Next I was married in the Camp Chapel wearing it without any scrutiny.
    It wasn’t until I left the NZ Army that during an ANZAC parade and officious veteran came up to me and said” what medal”. After my explanation he said “take it orf”.
    It’s the conduct sheet that illustrates the difference between official and personal context.
    The only other entry was for breaking curfew and drunkenness during active service on my first tour.
    After I was informed that my mother was very ill and they were endeavouring to get me home I was handling things ok but when she died and they said I would be staying I changed. It would be three decades later that I would be informed that I had also been affected by PTSD.
    On return to NZ I later realised I hadn’t really conducted myself very well.
    When I received the ARVN award at the end of the second tour I accepted that the comments “…devotion to duty have been an example to other s and a credit to himself, his Corps and the New Zealand Army” had been genuine and the medal took on a new personal significance over all the others.
    I guess from that perspective I am more critical of retrospective awards.
    I’ve got three NZ awards unworn in the bottom of the drawer. For those who are going to ask why I picked them up, my wife asked me to help her apply for her deceased brothers awards.
    When they arrived they informed her that had others for that address. I told them to send them simply because I knew that some poor serviceperson on a short term posting to NZDEF HQ would be dragged into an audit.
    The first medal was the Operational Service Medal, but whilst one could argue to issue it would fit protocol the circumstances of the issue I didn’t like.
    It suggested a SOP to accompany an early approach from the Vietnam Veteran executive which resulted in a useless offer of “genetic counselling” when any thinking veteran was aware the issue was mutagenicity and not teratogenicity.
    The next was the NZ General Service Medal (Warlike). The Joint Working Group determined that to issue another medal and retain the Australian add on disguised by a NZ Royal Warrant Vietnam campaign would be a SOP. This is because the original protocol was to cover those areas where no NZ or Commonwealth campaign metal was issued.
    The next medal was the NZ Defence Medal. I thought this was long overdue to recognise those who for no fault of their own would never see active service. This time veterans were asked for opinions and in my submission I said to retain the principle those who had active service medals should not be eligible.
    As I said there is personal context and official context and the latter has been eroded somewhat by those manipulations.

  9. Zedd

     /  November 16, 2017

    Good onya Ronny, wear your medals with pride/honour, to show your military service, you earned them 🙂

    • Ray

       /  November 16, 2017

      Fair enough, just wear them in the correct order.

      • Corky

         /  November 16, 2017

        Exactly. It’s not rocket science.

      • Zedd

         /  November 16, 2017

        Im sure Major (?) Mark, knows the regulations.. he comes across as a ‘NO Nonsense’ kinda person

        • He comes across as a no-nonsense for everyone else, but cuts himself a fair bit of slack.

        • Missy

           /  November 17, 2017

          He obviously doesn’t know the regulations since he 1. Wore them in the incorrect order putting a foreign military above NZ, and 2. Didn’t have permission to wear foreign military medals. He has also acknowledged that he didn’t know since he will now get advice on how to wear his medals correctly and will now be requesting permission to wear the foreign medals.

          This is poor from a Minister of Defence.

          • Gezza

             /  November 17, 2017

            I’d cut him a bit of slack. He’s never struck me as the sharpest knife in the block. To me he’s always just been the little lackey guy who runs around finding out what Winston wants him to say or do next. Pretty much what any NZF deputy would have to be like.

  10. NOEL

     /  November 16, 2017

    We took the neighbor down to a local cafe for birthday lunch.
    Interestingly they had a print edition of the NZ Herald.
    Couldn’t find the comment” However, one Vietnam veteran speaking anonymously had evidence of dozens upon dozens of upset former service personnel.”

    Given people are more likely to read more of the print edition and select only items of interest from the digital edition suggests his comments didn’t have the impact he was expecting.

  11. Missy

     /  November 17, 2017

    Here is a couple of questions the media should be asking Ron Mark.

    Was he advised previously on the correct protocol around wearing his medals? If so why did he not heed the advice?

    If the answer to the above is no, then why did he not confirm with the NZDF on the protocol of wearing his medals to ensure he did not embarrass himself or the NZDF?

  12. Patzcuaro

     /  November 18, 2017