23 February 2017
New Zealanders who served at the Bougainville peace talks in 1990 are now eligible for the New Zealand Operational Service Medal.
Recent research by the New Zealand Defence Force has determined that service at the peace talks in Bougainville by members of the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff met the risk threshold to be awarded a medal.
Royal New Zealand Navy ships Endeavour, Waikato and Wellington were deployed for nine days to provide the venue and accommodation for the peace talks in Keita Harbour and off the coast of Bougainville. This mission was known as Operation Big Talk.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating said awarding the New Zealand Operational Service Medal to those involved in Operation Big Talk was an appropriate way to recognise their valuable contribution to the peace effort in Bougainville.
“About 400 persons who served on Operation Big Talk now qualify to be awarded the New Zealand Operational Sevice Medal,” Lieutenant General Keating said.
The New Zealand Operational Sevice Medal, instituted in 2002, recognises service of seven days or more on operational service for New Zealand since 3 September 1945. It is awarded once only to an individual, regardless of how many times he or she has deployed on operations.
Applications for the medal should be sent to New Zealand Defence Force Personnel Archives and Medals. The application form (Form No. 1) can be downloaded from the New Zealand Defence Force Medals website:http://medals.nzdf.mil.nz. More details about eligibility for the medal are on the website.
Service on Operation Big Talk can also be counted towards the 30 days of operational service in Bougainville required to be awarded the New Zealand General Service Medal 1992, with Clasp “Bougainville”. Persons who served on Operation Big Talk and returned later to Bougainville may have accumulated enough days to be awarded the New Zealand General Service Medal.