… our aim is to honour the sacrifice and memory of deceased and often forgotten veterans by reuniting their war medals with kin … We use our collective military experience and research skills, together with a world-wide network of contacts, to find a veteran’s family or a descendant to reunite their medals with …
‘ we few, we happy few, we band of brothers .. ‘
Ian Martyn – Founder
As a former career serviceman in both the New Zealand and Australian armed services (NZ Army, RNZAF and RAAF) and a returned veteran, I have always been acutely aware that military medals not only tell a story of service but are often the only tangible evidence a family may have of a deceased war veteran ancestor they knew very little, if anything, about.
I started MRNZ with the aim of resurrecting and honoring the memory of some of the countless and forgotten war veteran’s whose numerous war medals I saw on a daily basis being auctioned or sold on the internet and in shops. By reuniting at least some of these ‘lost’ medals with surviving families, descendants or whanau, I hope to reinvigorate both interest and acknowledgement of deceased veterans among kin.
Many thousands of New Zealand veterans have made the supreme sacrifice in global and regional conflicts during the last 165 years of our history; many more were deeply affected for the rest of their lives by the trauma and suffering of their experiences, along with so many others who became dysfunctional outcasts of our post-Victorian society. This was an unexpected legacy inflicted upon the many New Zealander’s and others of allied nations who answered the Empire’s ‘Call to the Colours‘ for King and Country. Thousands willingly volunteered to be part of the great adventure oblivious to the horrors which would haunt the survivors. The service and sacrifices of these men and women (and animals) was formally acknowledged by a grateful King and Nation through the award of gallantry and war service medals (many posthumously). Additional commemorative mementos (e.g. Memorial Plaque (‘Death Penny’) and Scroll, King’s Message etc) to acknowledge the sacrifice of those who had paid the ultimate price in the service of their King and country, were sent to next of kin. As veterans’ immediate families died out many of these medals and mementos found their way into the commercial world to be bought and sold, thereby extinguishing the memory of so many veterans to future generations of descendants.
Medals are designed to be worn or displayed, not locked away in a draw or sold off for a short term cash gain. We want to encourage families to wear these medals on appropriate occasions as a means of expressing both pride in the sacrifice and service of their ancestors, and it is also a very public way of honouring their memory. Families then have a basis upon which to better connect with their sometimes forgotten/ overlooked/unknown veteran ancestors and to understand the part they played. This in turn can serve to educate junior family members by way of example. The guardianship of reunited medals hopefully will establish a custodial tradition in families that will both educate and perpetuate the honouring of a veterans memory by ensuring their medals are respected, protected and worn with pride.
We strongly encourage you to wear your ancestor’s medals (or a least a replica set*) on appropriate occasions, if their meaning and mana is to endure. Wearing an ancestor’s medals is one way of maintaining a deceased veteran’s visibility irrespective of how long ago they served or died. It is also a public acknowledgement of a family’s loss and respect, that the memory of their veteran ancestor endures and continues to be honoured. For more information go to Wearing Medals
In establishing MRNZ my first goal was to reunite the few medals I had acquired during my years of military service – job done. MRNZ is now sustained by medals sent to us from both NZ and overseas sources – members of the public, veterans’ organisations, police, clubs, charity shops, deceased estates, and on occasions anonymously. Typically medals have been found and/or handed in to Police, sent to MRNZ directly, or have been gifted, inherited, found in a families personal effects, or otherwise acquired … owners who decide they would like to return these medals to the veteran’s family engage MRNZ to assist. It is these medals that keep our 100% not-for profit FREE SERVICE going.
Please note – for reason explained elsewhere in this website MRNZ will only research medals (or ephemera) that have been sent to us.
Finding a family member or descendant to reunite a medal with is usually neither quick, nor easy. Our research is not always successful however we will never close a case, and remain optimistic that a vital piece of information will surface which will enable us to ‘connect the dots’ to successfully reunite medals with kin.
Brian Ramsay, BEM (Mil)
Brian is a very experienced former New Zealand Army infantry soldier and a valuable member of the research team, based in Nelson. Whilst Brian is an accomplished and knowledgeable medal enthusiast and researcher, he is also active in his local community mounting medals for veterans and their families. Brian provides a service for the Nelson RSA to re-ribbon, clean, preserve, mount and repair medals.
Brian is also the motivation and drive behind an initiative to spruce up neglected gravestones of war veterans (some very noteworthy) who are buried in a local Nelson cemeteries prior to the annual Anzac Day and Remembrance Day commemorations. Brian rallies his enthusiastic volunteer workforce from Navy, Army and Air Force Cadet units for the task. Their valued work ensures also ensures every war veterans in each of the cemeteries are remembered, and appropriately honoured with a poppy … ‘their name liveth for evermore’
‘In Aliorum Servitium’