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Can I speak directly to a member of the NZDF about general service life?

We hold regular Force Information evenings all around New Zealand.  These are free open information sessions for yourself and your family to find out more about the Defence Force and ask questions of our uniformed personnel. You can view upcoming dates and locations on our website and on our Facebook page.

Will I always have to do physical training?

The NZDF requires its personnel to maintain a good level of fitness, but encourage its members to maintain an excellent level of fitness, and allows some flexibility regarding exercising during working hours to support this. Some trades have compulsory PT multiple times per week (Diver, Infantry etc). For other less physical trades, it is your responsibility to maintain at least the minimum level of fitness required for your service, age and gender to pass annual or biannual fitness tests, so that you are ready and able to perform if you are called upon to deploy on operations.

Will I have to carry heavy backpacks?

Yes, sometimes. While carrying a backpack can be challenging, it is by no means an unachievable task. The physical training that is conducted during your initial training course is designed to gradually prepare you for carrying your equipment. You will be instructed on how to correctly set-up and wear your pack to minimise the risk of injury, and there are guidelines for personnel regarding the lifting and carrying of weights. The requirement to carry packs or loads differs between the services.


As a general rule, a pack is not worn in the work environment. Packs or heavy loads may be incorporated into some aspects of initial training, emergency drills, physical fitness and some adventure training.


There is a requirement to carry loads, such as packs, at certain times during your recruit and ongoing unit training. Depending on your career path, and your location of posting, you may be required to carry packs for short periods of time during activities such as training exercises, physical fitness training and on operations.

Air Force

During stages of your recruit training you will be required to carry a pack.

Once you sign the Offer of Service, are you bound to serve for the whole engagement?

No, signing the Offer of Service places you under no obligation. However, once you enlist (attest), you become liable to serve the period of your engagement. You have the right to apply for release (resign) at any time during your engagement. After recruit training, the normal notice period for release is three months.

Will I be required to deploy?

Yes. The NZDF has a strong focus on being an operational defence force. NZDF personnel must be fit and ready for deployment when required. There is no guarantee of a deployment but all personnel must be able to.

After resigning and leaving the NZDF, can I be recalled?

No. However, when renewing your Offer of Service after your period of engagement (usually 15 years), this may be included in your new Offer of Service.

What are the joining dates?

There are multiple intakes each year for both Recruits and Officers.

Check out our Upcoming Intakes.

Will I be able to stay in touch with friends and family during my initial training?

Yes. Although you will need to hand your cellphone in for field exercises while on your recruit course, and for most of the early stages of training, you will be given reasonable opportunity to communicate with your family and friends by mail or cellphone. There are channels in place for your family to quickly contact you in case of a family emergency. These contact details will be sent to you prior to your initial training to be passed on to your family.

What can I do to prepare for basic training?

You will be very busy during your initial training, so we recommend organising your personal life before the first day of training. This will allow you to focus on your course without distractions, and enable you to enjoy time on leave rather than conducting personal admin.

Improving your general fitness, running, strength, and endurance will help your team during physical aspects of training. Ask your Candidate Engagement Facilitator about your nearest Force Fit programme. Force Fit sessions are a great way to increase your personal fitness and build relationships with other people that may be on your intake.

Your Candidate Engagement Facilitator will provide you with an equipment list, and more information about what to expect during training. Feel free to ask questions at your Induction day.

Is the NZDF a fair and diverse place to work?

The NZDF is committed to ensuring a balanced workforce and an inclusive culture. This means that all members are able to participate, compete and be rewarded fairly regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, age, beliefs/opinions, or family circumstances.

What are the NZDF’s core values?

Our core values are:

  • Courage | Tū Kaha - Taking action despite your fears.
  • Commitment | Tū Tika - Giving your best.
  • Comradeship | Tū Tira - Respecting and looking out for each other.
  • Integrity | Tū Maia - Doing the right thing – always.

Can I study while I am in the NZDF?

Yes. Typically your first year in the NZDF is very busy with training, so we don’t recommend studying during this time, but you can spend your spare time as you wish. If the study is related to your trade, you can apply for the NZDF to pay for it or subsidise your course fees. You may even be allowed to spend work time studying depending on the course and the demands of your job.

Find out more on our website, look up Education and Training, in the Lifestyle and Salary section for each service.

After I join, can I change trades or service?

Initial trade selection is important because both you and the NZDF invest a significant amount of time and resources on your training and career progression, so it pays to thoroughly research the trade you are entering and make a well informed decision.

In some circumstances it is possible to change trade or service once you are in the NZDF. However, trade and service changes can be a lengthy process and are dependent on a number of factors like personnel requirements for the trades you wish to leave and join, and is by no means guaranteed. Therefore, if you assume you will be able to change trades or service at a later stage, we advise against accepting an Offer of Service for a trade or service you do not consider yourself suited to.

What do I sign when I become a Reservist?

Successful Army and Naval Reserve applicants sign both an Offer of Service and an attestation form (legal document that means you agree to abide by the Armed Forces Disciplinary Act).

As a Reservist, will I be forced to go on deployment?

In times of war or emergency, you may be called upon to deploy.

Do I have to tell a new employer that I am a Reservist?

No. It is at your discretion to tell a new employer if you are a member of the Army Reserve or Naval Reserve. However, we encourage you to be open with your employer or a potential employer. The Volunteers Employment Protection Act 1973 makes it an offence for an employer to discriminate against, disadvantage, or dismiss an employee or prospective employee for rendering service in the Reserve Force. No one from the NZDF will contact your employer without your prior consent.

When re-enlisting, do I have to go through the same selection process as somebody joining for the first time?

No. We have a specialist team who handle all re-enlistment applications. The team is made up of Army, Navy and Air Force recruiting personnel, as well as our civilian Candidate Engagement Facilitators. We work closely with Career Managers to process your application.

When re-enlisting, will I retain my previous rank and seniority?

Most of the time people re-enlist with the same rank and seniority, however this is assessed on a case by case basis, and includes factors such as how long you have been out for and what you have done since you left.

How long does it take to re-enlist?

Each application is different and there are a number of tasks that need to be completed before you re-enlist (military file check, police check, medical test, etc). The timeframe can also depend on availabilty of a position for your rank and trade. Some people are back within a month, and others can take up to six months or longer. You will have responsibility for completing parts of the process, the faster you complete these the faster your application will progress.

Will you review my previous military file?

Yes, both the Recruiter and the Career Manager will review your file to assess your suitability for re-enlistment. If it is decided that you are not suitable for re-enlistment, you will be given the reason for this.

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