The New Zealand Memorial Cross was announced by the New Zealand Government in December 1946 and formally instituted by HM King George VI on 12 September 1947. It was intended for award to the widows and mothers of members of the New Zealand Armed Forces and Merchant Seaman who were killed or died on active service during the Second World War.
The cross is in dull silver with a Crown on the upper vertical arm and a New Zealand Fern on the other three points of the cross. In the centre is the cypher (GVIR) of HM King George VI. A wreath of laurel appears between each arm of the cross. To date there have been two issues of the Cross - the second, bearing the cypher of HM Queen Elizabeth II, is issued as a brooch. Since 1995, deaths in peace-keeping operations have been included. The Cross owes it origins to a similar Memorial Cross issued by the Canadian government following the First World War.
For deaths during the Second World War the first cross was awarded in the late 1940s or the 1950s to the mother. If the mother was deceased the first cross was awarded to the father, or if he was also deceased to the eldest sister, or the eldest brother if the military service person had no living sisters. A second cross was awarded to the widow, eldest daughter or eldest son (in that order of precedence). If the deceased military service person was not married and had no children only one Memorial Cross was issued.
The King George VI cross is worn from a thin mauve coloured ribbon suspended around the neck, while the Queen Elizabeth II cross is worn as a brooch.