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Our people

Our maritime force is made up of experts recruited from all walks of life and brought together to become Warriors of the Sea – to do what is right for our country and for those who ask for our help.

Regular Force 

Our full time Regular Force is made up of sailors who fill a wide variety of ranks and roles: Ordinary rates to Admirals, technicians to divers, intelligence specialists to medics. Our people are trained in skills specific to their trade as well as military skills applicable to their role such as planning, leadership and command. They serve on and support operational deployments and undertake training, both in New Zealand and overseas. Our people also fill management and corporate functions on bases, camps and in headquarters.

Reserves

We have over 500 Naval Reservists who provide a valued, flexible workforce of skilled professionals. They serve to support the Navy’s operational capability in its maritime defence and security roles, as well as in times of natural and other disaster events both within New Zealand and overseas. Modern Reservists are a blended mix of personnel who have signed up for paid part-time service as an adjunct to their civilian careers or home life. Our Navy has four Reserve units that are based in different parts of Aotearoa:

  • HMNZS Toroa (Dunedin)
  • HMNZS Pegasus (Christchurch)
  • HMNZS Olphert (Wellington)
  • HMNZS Ngapona (Auckland with a sub-branch in Tauranga).

Civilian personnel 

Civilian employees fill a wide range of specialist and corporate roles that do not require deployment to an operational environment. The work they do is essential to our Navy.

By the numbers 

Our Navy is comprised of almost 2,900 regular force and reserve force personnel, as set out in the following tables.

Information last updated: 21 October 2021

Headcount by arm

REGULAR FORCE 2,362
RESERVE FORCE 532
TOTAL 2,894

Regular Force headcount by gender

female 634
male 1,728  
Total 2,362

Our ranks 

The rank system forms the backbone of our military structure and defines the role of commissioned and non-commissioned personnel, and the degree of responsibility they hold.

Commissioned Officers

RANK ABBREVIATION
Vice Admiral VADM
Rear Admiral RADM
Commodore CDRE
Captain CAPT
Commander CDR
Lieutenant Commander LTCDR
Lieutenant LT
Sub Lieutenant SLT
Ensign ENS
Midshipman MID

Non-Commissioned Personnel

RANK ABBREVIATION
Warrant Officer (WO---)
Chief Petty Officer (CPO---)
Petty Officer (PO---)
Leading Hand (L---)
Able Rating (A---) 
Ordinary Rating (O---)

The letters that fill the '---' space indicate the sailor's trade. View all our trade badges here.

View the full NZDF rank system