Order awarded to recognise outstanding service to the Crown and people of New Zealand in a civil or military capacity.
The ordinary membership is limited to 20 living members, and at any time there may be fewer than 20. The additional members may be appointed to commemorate important royal, state or national occasions.
The badge of the Order consists of an oval medallion in gold and coloured enamels, bearing in the centre the design of the shield of the New Zealand Coat of Arms within a Kowhaiwhai rafter pattern. The ribbon is red ochre (kokowai) with a narrow white stripe towards either edge.