NZ Army stewards provide support to the Chef team in delivering sustaining, nutritionally well-balanced meals for our soldiers. You will interact with personnel from all ranks, trades and units within the organisation. Your passion for excellence within the hospitality industry will see you represent your catering team well, both in the mess (dining hall) and during competitions.

You will gain the skills required to conduct daily table service for our officers and senior soldiers, you will learn how to match wines with food, train as a barista and earn a bar managers certificate. Your qualifications will be internationally recognised and include training towards London City and Guilds Institute certificates.

You will be responsible for assisting in the service of meals to all diners, from senior soldiers to senior officers and dignitaries. Your tasks will include serving food with table service, silver service, or Gueridon service (where the meal is cooked at the table using a portable service trolley). And you’ll assist in the planning of functions and formal dinners.

You will work in rotating shifts within the camp environment, and on exercises and operations. You will mainly be based in the Officers or Senior Non-Commissioned Officers messes, and provide bar support to functions and formal dinners within the mess environment. Whilst you’re under training you’ll work as part of a team, but once fully qualified you’ll often work solo.

Your core work hours are an 8 hour shift, ‘early’ shift starting around 6am, and ‘late’ shift finishing around 7.30pm. You may have to work outside of these hours when supporting formal functions.

Stewards deploy on a variety of overseas deployments, providing catering services to our personnel through both supporting the chef team and running the canteen. In the field you may take on more of a cooking role, working closely with the chefs in the tented kitchens. You may also work alongside locally employed people to provide stewarding services.

Delivering good meals and providing canteen services are vital to the well-being of our deployed personnel, as this is the time when soldiers relax and unwind. You may also assist the senior officer in charge of the deployment by hosting local dignitaries.

Stewards deploy with large contingents, in the past this has included Bosnia, Bougainville, East Timor and Afghanistan. There are plenty of opportunities to participate in exchange programmes to Australia, military exercises in the Pacific, and to work onboard Navy ships.

Initial catering training is provided at the Defence Catering School where you will train alongside Navy stewards. This training is conducted at either Devonport (Auckland) or Waiouru, depending on training numbers for each course. You begin as an assistant steward within a small catering team, progressing to being the shift leader. Eventually you will take on a management role running the dining room or bar.

Once you’re fully qualified and have gained experience there are opportunities to be instructor at the Defence Catering School. 

Careers in the Army are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.

While undertaking initial Recruit Course you will be paid as a Recruit (see attached pay table). On completion of your Recruit Course you will be paid as a Private and your pay will continue to increase as your career progresses.

  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain CV security clearance for this trade.
  • A background in catering will make you a more competitive applicant.
  • Driver's Licence: A Class 1 restricted driver's licence is recommended, but is not compulsory.
  • You will need a high standard of personal presentation and a desire to excel in the hospitality trade.

You must have achieved the NCEA level 1 Literacy and Numeracy requirements

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.

Upon successful enlistment into the Army you will be posted to Waiouru Army base. Here you will do 16 weeks of basic military training to find out if you have what it takes to be in the Army, and learn various subjects including:

  • Organisation and Administration
  • Army Customs and Protocol
  • Drill and Parades
  • Military Field Skills and Weapon Training
  • First Aid
  • Physical Fitness


(4 Weeks) Location: Trentham Military Camp (near Upper Hutt)
You will attend the Royal NZ Army Logistics Regiment (RNZALR) Basic Course with all other logistics trades. Here you will learn:

  • Understanding operational Combat Service Support concepts
  • Learning to operate as a logistics specialist in a camp environment
  • Learning to deploy and operate as a logistics specialist in a field environment
  • Learning about military vehicles and their functions
  • Operating communications and other military equipment
  • Corps history

You may also begin training to gain your heavy trade, forklift and other licences.


NZ Army currently provides formal training to gain recognition through London City and Guilds Institute for the Certificate in Food and Beverage.

Alongside your Army promotion courses you will attend three separate catering trade courses. The first is an introduction to basic stewarding services, this includes basic cookery so that you can assist the chef team where appropriate. The next course has you advancing to further steward service skills and gaining your wine certificate. The final course covers bar and mess management.


All following trade courses are held at the Defence Catering School in Devonport Naval Base (Auckland) or Waiouru Military Camp:

  • NZDF Caterer Junior Course (Basic stewarding, basic cookery and knife skills)
  • Army Caterer Operational Field Junior Course (Introduction to field catering equipment, catering in the field environment)
  • NZDF Steward Intermediate Course (Intermediate stewarding, wine certificate, barista)
  • Army Caterer Operational Field Intermediate Course (Introduction to shift leader in a field environment)
  • NZDF Steward Senior Course (Mess and bar management, advanced gueridon dishes, function planning)
  • Army Caterer Operational Field Senior Course (Kitchen leader in the field environment)
  • NZDF Caterer Advanced Course (Kitchen and mess management, operational catering planning)

In New Zealand all Stewards can be posted to Linton Military Camp, Trentham Military Camp, Burnham Military Camp and Papakura Military Camp.