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Our people

Our Force is made up of highly trained professionals who fill a wide variety of roles in our Navy, Army, and Air Force, and in civilian positions.

We come from all walks of life and share a strong sense of what it means to be Kiwi - our culture is based on our values Tū Kaha (courage), Tū Tika (commitment), Tū Tira (comradeship) and Tū Maia (integrity). Together, we are Force for New Zealand and are proud to serve Aotearoa and its diverse communities.

Regular Force 

Our full-time Regular Force personnel includes soldiers, sailors and airmen who are fill a wide variety of ranks and roles: Privates to Admirals, technicians to special operations troops, 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.


Our Navy, Army and Air Force Reserves provide extra depth and diversity, working and training with us part-time. Reserves complement our Regular Force by providing additional capacity and expertise, ready to respond to events in New Zealand and overseas.

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 Defence Force. Many civilian personnel previously served in the Regular Force, or are currently-serving Reserves.

Collectively, our uniformed Regular Force and Reserve personnel and civilian staff operate as an Integrated Defence Force to serve the people of New Zealand. 

Royal New Zealand Navy sailors perform a haka near the ship. The sailor in the foreground in focus has a fist and some strong enthusiastic emotion on their face. Soldiers from 3rd Combat Service Support Battlion (3CSSB) assist a Buller District resident evacuate from their home following flooding.  An NH90 Helicopter Loadmaster engages with locals while on duty in the Solomon Islands. No. 3 Squadron were an integral part of the logistical support offered as part of the National Government Elections, OP MOA.

By the numbers 

Our Force is comprised of over 15,200 regular force personnel, reserves and civilian employees, as set out in the following tables.

Information last updated: 1 May 2023

NZDF headcount by service and arm

SERVICE Defence Navy Army Air Force Total
REGULAR FORCE - 2,131 4,336 2,365 8,832
RESERVE FORCE - 707 2,219 442 3,368
civilian 3,011 - - - 3,011
TOTAL 3,011 2,838 6,555 2,807 15,211

Regular Force headcount by gender and service  

Gender Female Male Total
Navy 587 1,544 2,131
Army  653 3,683 4,336
Air Force 535 1,830 2,365
Total 1,775 7,057 8,832

NZDF headcount by gender and arm

Gender Female Male Total
Regular Force 1,775 7,057 8,832
Non-Regular force 607 1,645 3,368
Civilian 1,366 1,645 3,011
Total 3,748 11,463 15,211

Our ranks 

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

View the full NZDF rank system

Personnel on board HMNZS Canterbury wearing different uniforms walk through the aircraft hangar