Awarded to New Zealanders who have taken part in operational service on or after September 3, 1945. Personnel holding the New Zealand Operational Service Medal, East Timor, United Nations, Vietnam, Rhodesia or NATO medals qualified for this award. Seven days service towards an operational medal will also qualify for this medal. The medal is to be worn immediatley after the New Zealand War Service Medal 1939-1945 and before any other war medal. To date it has been awarded un-named to 19,000 of about 40,000 New Zealanders eligible for the medal, although it is anticipated that future medals will be named. Awarded to next of kin for those that have died whilst on operational service.
One the obverse New Zealand arms, reverse a kiwi on six straight lines with NEW ZEALAND between two stars below and three wavy lines and the inscription FOR OPERATIONAL SERVICE below.
The New Zealand Operational Service Medal ribbon is 32mm wide, black with six white stripes in pairs at the edges and centre.