New Zealand Cross
The New Zealand Cross was introduced in 1869 during the Land Wars in New Zealand. The wars were fought between the natives of New Zealand, the Māori, and European settlers known as Pākehā who were assisted by British or Imperial troops.
Many acts of bravery, gallantry and devotion to duty were recorded among the local militia, armed constabulary and volunteers, but only the Imperial troops were eligible for the highest British recognition of valour, the Victoria Cross.
Recognising the inequality of this, the Governor of New Zealand of the time, Sir George Bowen, announced a new medal of equivalent rank to the VC.
He was widely criticised in England, and accused of usurping the prerogative of Queen Victoria, but she eventually ratified his action and the New Zealand Cross, introduced on March 10, 1869, continued to be awarded through to 1881.
Only 23 New Zealand Crosses were awarded, making it one of the rarest medals recognising bravery in the world, and it has rarely been sold. The cross was awarded retrospectively for some actions that had taken place before it was instituted.
It has the form of a silver cross pattée with a gold star on each arm. The words New Zealand, in gold, are encircled by a laurel wreath in the centre. The cross is surmounted by a gold crown. A crimson ribbon passes through a silver bar with small gold laurel leaves.
Recipients of the original New Zealand Cross were:
Private Thomas Adamson, Corps of Guides, Ahikereru, 1869.
Constable Henare Kepa te Ahururu, 1st Division, Armed Constabulary, Moturoa, 1868.
Sergeant Samuel Austin, Wanganui Contingent, Putahi Pa and Keteonetea, 1866.
Constable Solomon Black, 1st Division, Armed Constabulary, Ngatapa, 1869.
Constable Benjamin Biddle, 1st Division, Armed Constabulary, Ngatapa, 1869.
Sergeant Arthur Wakefield Carkeek, Armed Constabulary, Ohinemutu, 1870.
Dr Isaac Earl Featherston, Native Contingent, Otapawa Pa, 1866.
Sergeant George (Rowley) Hill, 1st Division, Armed Constabulary, Jerusalem Pa, 1869.
Trooper William Lingard, Kai Iwi Cavalry Volunteers, Tauranga-ika, 1868.
Captain Francis Joseph Mace, Taranaki Militia, Kaitikara River, 1863.
Captain Gilbert Mair, NZ Militia, Rotoma, 1870.
Sergeant Christopher Louis Maling, Corps of Guides, Tauranga-ika, 1868.
Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas McDonnell, NZ Militia, Paparatu, 1863 and Putahi Pa, 1866.
Ensign Henry William Northcroft, Patea Rangers, Pungarehu and Tirotiro Moana, 1866
Sub-inspector George Augustus Preece, Armed Constabulary, Ngatapa, 1869
Major Kepa Te Rangihiwinui, NZ Militia (Native Contingent), Moturoa, 1868, and Otauto 1869.
Inspector John Mackintosh Roberts, Armed Constabulary, Moturoa, 1868.
Trooper Antonio Rodriques de Sardinha,Taranaki Mounted Volunteers, Poutoko 1863 and Kaitake, 1864.
Sergeant Richard Shepherd, Armed Constabulary, Otauto, 1869.
Comet Angus Smith, Bay of Plenty Cavalry Volunteers, Opepe, 1869.
Major Ropata Wahawaha, Native Contingent, Ngatapa, 1869.
Assistant-Surgeon Samuel Walker, Armed Constabulary, Otauto, 1869.
Cornet Harry Charles William Wrigg, Bay of Plenty Cavalry Volunteers, Opotiki, 1867.
One colonial soldier, Major Charles Heaphy was awarded the VC for his actions in 1864, when he was commanding British troops. See List of New Zealander Victoria Cross recipients and New Zealand Land Wars Victoria Cross recipients.
In 1999, the New Zealand Cross was re-institured. The Royal Warrant of 20 September 1999 created four awards for bravery and four for gallantry.
The new New Zealand Cross for Bravery is similar to the 1869 medal with some amendments. The Crown is now the current St Edward's Crown instead of a Victorian Crown, and New Zealand fern fronds replace laurel leaves. The ribbon is bright blue, a colour traditionally associated with bravery awards.