Wearing of Honours, Medals and Awards

There is a strict order of precedence.  Medals are worn on the left breast, starting from almost the middle of the breast and moving outwards to the left.  Medals with ribbons may overlap but, when ribbons alone are worn, they are placed edge to edge to edge and not more than five can normally be in a row.  If more than five ribbons are worn, they are placed in rows so that from a facing view, you read across and down for the order of precedence. 

Foreign medals, or their ribbons, are worn after those bestowed by the Crown or New Zealand.

Only the recipient is entitled to wear the Honours, Medals and Awards on the left breast.

Other Honours, Medals and Awards

When medals are worn by a non-recipient, such as a family member in honour of a deceased recipient, on commemorative occasions such as ANZAC Day they are worn in the same order, but starting from the right side and moving inwards across the right breast.

As all other Honours, Medals and Awards are not officially recognised, there is no order of precedence required, but they are worn on the right breast.

Wearing of the poppy
The poppy should be worn on the left breast above any medals, or on the left lapel.
The Wearing of the RSA Badge
The badge is to be worn on the right breast or right lapel and when attending an RSA occasion, or representing the RSA, in precedence, above any other badge being worn.


NZRSA Public Relations Officer Dr Stephen Clarke

90 years ago this year the guns went silent on the Western Front after four years of horror and the loss of 18,000 New Zealand soldiers — a Great Sorrow followed the Great War. The end of the war was also the start of a massive repatriation process which saw 80,000 New Zealand soldiers return home and the beginning of a battle to survive the peace that for many would be for the rest of their lives. Many veterans did manage that transition from soldier to civilian but increasingly latent war injuries and gassed lungs resulted in failing health, economic hardship, mental stress, and even premature deaths as well as suicide. The fledging RSA soon desperately required welfare funds, an appeal and a symbol.  Enter a French woman and her poppies.

John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields”, with its immortalisation of the poppy and its association with resurrection and remembrance as a result of the flower being the first plant to grow in the churned up soil of soldiers’ graves, inspired many a response. Such as Frenchwoman Madame Guérin who conceived the idea of widows and orphans manufacturing artificial poppies in the devastated areas of northern France able to be sold by veterans' organisations for the benefit of both. In 1921, the RSA placed an order with Guérin’s French Children's League but in contrast to Britain and the dominions, including Australia, the RSA did not hold its inaugural Poppy Appeal in association with Armistice Day 1921 (11 November). The reason why is a quirk of history. The ship carrying the poppies from France simply arrived too late for the scheme to be properly publicised and the RSA postponed its campaign until just prior to ANZAC Day 1922. It was a fortunate circumstance as the poppy would forever be associated with ANZAC Day.