The New Zealand Cross (NZC) was instituted in 1999, when the New Zealand Gallantry and Bravery Awards were established.
The NZC is similar in design to the original NZC instituted by the Government in 1869 for award of acts of bravery during the land wars of the nineteenth century. The design has been amended by including gold New Zealand fern fronds (replacing gold laurel leaves) and the current Royal Crown (St Edward’s Crown) (replacing a Victorian Crown). The cross is made of silver and gold.
The ribbon of the NZC is bright blue, a colour traditionally associated with bravery awards.
The NZC bears the inscription “FOR BRAVERY – MO TE MAIA” on the reverse.
The NZC is engraved with the recipient's full name and date of award on the reverse of the suspender bar.
The designer of the NZC is the New Zealand Herald of Arms.
A lapel badge for everyday wear is issued to living recipients.