Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps

The Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps (RNZAMC) is a corps of the New Zealand Army, the land branch of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). The Medical Corps provides for the medical needs of soldiers, such as diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries. Medical personnel are part of almost all Army exercises and operations, and personnel work in conjunction with personnel from the Royal New Zealand Dental Corps and the Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps.[2]

Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps
ActiveNew Zealand Medical Corps: 1908–1947
Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps: 1947-present
Branch New Zealand Army
RoleMedical support
Motto(s)Semper quietus, semper agens
(Always calm, always alert)
AnniversariesCorps Day (7 May)[1]
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester


The New Zealand Medical Corps (NZMC) was established in May 1908 to provide a reserve of medical personnel should that be required in the event of war.[3][4] After the declaration of war in August 1914, the New Zealand government sent a small contingent of medical staff to Samoa to take over the hospital at Apia. The contingent was made up of four medical officers, two dental surgeons, 67 non-commissioned officers and seven nurses.

As the war progressed and the number of casualties increased, it became apparent that more medical personnel were required to treat them. James Allen, Minister of Defence, offered to send medical personnel to a stationery hospital in Egypt, including eight officers and 50 nurses. New Zealand medical personnel went on to serve in Samoa, Egypt, Palestine, Gallipoli, France, Belgium, Serbia and Great Britain.

As part of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, three General Hospitals, three Field Ambulances, and a Convalescent Depot were dispatched to the Middle East (and parts to the United Kingdom with the Second Echelon temporarily) along with the remainder of the force.[5]

On 12 July 1947 (Gazette No. 39/1947) the NZMC was granted a Royal Warrant and became the Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps (RNZAMC).[6] Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was the Colonel-in-Chief from 1977 to 2002.

During the Cold War, the Army maintained hospitals and field ambulances. The Forward Surgical Team was deployed to East Timor while serving with INTERFET, but the last Field Hospital was reorganised into a Health Services Battalion in the mid-2000s, following an Australian example.[7]

Current training

Medical training for the entire New Zealand Defence Force is conducted at Defence Health School, Burnham Army Camp and all medics enlisted in the Army, Navy or Air Force are sent there for training. A medic's first year of training involves studying for the Diploma in Paramedic Science run in conjunction with Auckland University of Technology's Faculty of Health Sciences. They then complete a Graduate Diploma of Health Science (Military Medic), which equates to, and is credited towards, two thirds of a Paramedicine bachelor's degree. This is a total of two-and-a-half years of intensive training (both academic and practical) and includes work experience in military and civilian hospitals, emergency departments and ambulance services. There is a strong focus on Primary Health Care and diagnostics along with advanced emergency skills. After their training, medics are then posted to their respective camps and bases. Most gain overseas operational experience with the NZDF within a short time and become proficient and experienced across a wide range of pre-hospital environments. Medics can continue onto a range of degree or graduate level qualifications when their workload permits.

The Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps also employs a wide range of other medical specialists from Doctors through to radiographers, environmental health officers and other health professionals.


  1. "Army medics to receive royal banner". New Zealand Defence Force. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  2. "Our Ranks and Corps". New Zealand Army. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  3. National Library, First World War Medical Services, accessed November 2019.
  4. See Lt Col A.R.D. Carberry, The New Zealand Medical Service in the Great War, Whitcomb and Tombs, Auckland 1924, now digitized.
  5. The Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–1945 - volume on Medical Units of 2 NZEF in Middle East and Italy
  6. Army Medics to Receive Royal Banner, 18 May 2010.
  7. Colin Robinson, Towards an effective joint force: The Joint Support Component Command, p.33


  • Army Headquarters, Medical Section, The first fifty years : a commentary on the development of the Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps from its inception in 1908, produced by the Medical Section, Army Headquarters. Wellington: 1958.
  • C.H. Kidman, A short history of the Royal Army Medical Corps, 1660 to 1918 and, The New Zealand Medical Corps, 1845 to 1945, Wellington, N.Z.: Ministry of Defence?, 1972.
  • Stout, T. Duncan M., Medical Services in New Zealand and the Pacific(part of The Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–1945), Historical Publications Branch, Wellington: 1958.
  • The Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–1945 - volume on New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
  • Treanor, Ken, The staff, the serpent and the sword : 100 years of the Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps, WillsonScott Pub., Christchurch, c2008.
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