Click here to edit title

A website for young nurses and the young at heart in Aotearoa

History of the New Zealand Registered Nurse Medal

Ever wondered what the New Zealand Registered Nurse medal actually stands for? It has a fascinating history stretching back to 1901. Here is some of the history behind the medal.



Further information can be found in Deb Spence's Kai Tiaki article from 2001: Meanings behind the nursing medal.


And if you are interested in some of original discussion, see this letter to the editor from a 1923 edition of Kai Tiaki on the Papers Past website  here.  

The star encloses a Red Cross as an emblem of the blood and the Cross of Christ. The white background stands for the purity expected in the life of a nurse; blue stands for honour and loyalty, and gold for charity. The Medal was designed as a symbol of service in the alleviation of suffering.


The Five Pointed Star

The Hand
That my hand shall ever extend to help, comfort and relieve the sick and suffering.
The Foot
That my feet shall not falter, loiter nor linger, when journeying to alleviate the suffering of the sick.

The Knee
That my knee shall bow to the Almighty Creator in asking for guidance and aid in my endeavour to relieve the suffering of the sick.

The Breast
That my breast shall be a safe and sacred repository for any secret entrusted to me or divulged through sickness or delirium or otherwise obtained.

The Head
That I will constantly pursue and study the secret arts; that I will exercise my knowledge to the benefit of those suffering bodily or mental distress, and will disseminate such knowledge amongst others as my preceptors authorise and direct.