Corps of Royal New Zealand Military Police

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The Corps of Royal New Zealand Military Police
RNZMP Badge.jpg
Badge of the Corps of Royal New Zealand Military Police
Active circa 1914
Country  New Zealand
Branch Crest of the New Zealand Army.jpg New Zealand Army
Type Military Police
Size One Company
Motto(s) Ko Tatou Hei Tauira (By Example We Lead)
Colors Royal blue and white
March The Watchtower
Anniversaries 18 July 1952
Dress Distinction White Lanyard worn on the left arm with Service Dress
Patch White "MP" on Blue Patch on the left arm with Working (Camouflage) Dress

The Corps of Royal New Zealand Military Police (RNZMP) provides military police services to the New Zealand Army, performing a variety of roles including criminal investigations. It consists of one major unit, the 1st (New Zealand) Military Police Company, although members of the corps can also be posted to other units within the New Zealand Army. The corps is a combat support element responsible for the policing, investigation, custodial, security and battlefield circulation control support to New Zealand Defence Force land elements. Personnel within the corps include commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers of both the Regular Force and Territorial Force.



Provost Marshal lineage[edit]

As a Corps, RNZMP date from 1915. However, there are links to earlier military policing. As the executive representatives of the Provost Marshal of the New Zealand Army, the RNZMP can claim the same ancient lineage as the Royal Military Police. The first record of a person conducting the duties of a provost marshal stem from 28 May 1241, when Henry II appointed William of Cassingham as a military "Sergeant of the Peace. He and his under-provosts were the ancestors of the modern Royal Military Police.

The first recorded provost marshal in English history of whom there is a personal record is Sir Henry Guldeford (or Guylford), who was appointed in 1511. The provost marshal was responsible for maintaining discipline within the English armies together with the King's personal security, and was also described as the "first and greatest gaoler of the Army". As the provost marshal's office gradually assumed more and more duties of a policing nature within the Army, he was provided with State-paid troops, referred to in Henry VIII's day as provost companies.

The Articles of War of 1591, which were written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, laid down that: "No man shall resist the Provost Marshal, or other of his officers, in apprehending any malfactor, but if need be shall aid and assist him..."

During the Peninsula War of 1813–14, the Duke of Wellington asked for a provost marshal to be appointed to hang looters; by the end of the Peninsular War the provost marshal controlled 24 assistant provost marshals. The assistants were also authorised to hang offenders and eventually each division had its own assistant provost marshal.

New Zealand colonial period[edit]

New Zealand (NZ) became a colony of Britain in 1840. Policing within NZ started the same year with the arrival of six constables accompanying Lieutenant Governor Hobson's official landing party. Early policing was undertaken by a colonial police force, who were part police and part militia. With many of its first officers having seen prior service in either Ireland or Australia, this early force resembled a military police unit.

The New Zealand Armed Constabulary Act of 1867 established an organised structure for a group that operated along gendermarie lines. The Armed Constabulary took part in the New Zealand Land Wars against Māori opposed to colonial expansion. Still part police and part militia, this organisation is considered the predecessor of military policing within New Zealand.

The Police Force Act of 1886 established a single centralised police force. At the same time, the government moved the militia functions of the old Armed Constabulary to the forerunner of the New Zealand Defence Force called the New Zealand Permanent Militia. The New Zealand Permanent Militia, and later the New Zealand Military Forces, did not have a formal military police element. However, during the Second Boer War (1899–1902) individual NZ soldiers served with the British Mounted Military Police in South Africa.[1]


During World War I New Zealand military police served on all fronts where New Zealand soldiers fought as part of 1 NZEF. They were all mounted, and the MP squadron within the Mounted Rifle Brigade in the Middle East was allegedly the subject of a very favourable report from Major-General Chaytor, commander of the NZ Brigade. After the Armistice, the NZ Military Police were disbanded.[1]

During World War II, the NZ Military Police were re-established. The first detachment sailed for the Middle East in January 1940, where they served on all fronts and in all engagements with 2NZEF. However, focus upon duties including battlefield circulation control, policing and investigations diminished their combat role: "Every move our columns have made since we crossed the El Alamein battlefield has been marked by [the Divisional Provost Company]". They first used lights at night (originally 20 old railway lamps) to guide New Zealand columns through dangerous mountain passes in Greece. The use of 'lamp lines' grew through the desert campaign and men from Divisional Provost Company went forward at times even further than armoured patrols, sometimes under shellfire, to find and mark tracks. "For every mile our columns moved, they covered three or four. When [our columns] were halted, they went forward, marking tracks through seemingly impassable country".[2] Major E.W. Hayton who was wounded in early July 1942,[3] was awarded the DSO for outstanding provost duties at the Battle of El Alamein while serving as the Assistant Provost Marshal beside Major R.R.J. Jenkin who was commanding the NZ Divisional Provost Company at the same battle. Jenkin was later promoted to lieutenant colonel and appointed Deputy Provost Marshal in Italy. After the war ended, the military police were again disbanded.

On 18 February 1949, the New Zealand Military Police were re-gazetted, and re-formed on 24 March 1951. On 18 July 1952, Her Majesty the Queen granted assent for the title "Royal", and the Corps became the "Royal New Zealand Provost Corps (RNZ Pro)".

In 1952, a Colonel Commandant was appointed to the Corps. The first was Colonel E.W. Hayton. On his death in 1957 he was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel R.R.J. Jenkin, MBE, who remained in the post until 1968.

In August 1955, the first peace-time Regular Force commissioned officer was appointed to the Corps. This was Captain D.J. MacLeod who had first seen service with the Scots Guards and later with the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) of the Royal Military Police. MacLeod was appointed Head of Corps RNZ Pro at Army Headquarters and held this appointment until October 1962 when a reorganisation of the Corps took place.

RNZ Pro personnel served with the New Zealand elements sent in support of the British response to the Malayan Emergency and in the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation. RNZ Pro personnel were also sent with NZ troops to the Vietnam War.

On 1 October 1962, the first peace-time Provost Marshal of the New Zealand Army was appointed: Lieutenant Colonel R.H.F. Holloway, OBE, RNZA. Following this, in 1964 the first Regular Force Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal, Lieutenant Burton, was appointed.

RNZ Pro personnel were stationed with New Zealand Force South East Asia in Singapore as part of the Far East Strategic Reserve from about 1972 until 1989. They formed part of a multinational military police unit, along with Royal Military Police, the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police and service police from the Royal New Zealand Air Force and Royal New Zealand Navy.

From 1979 until the mid-1980s, RNZ Pro / RNZMP personnel provided security at the New Zealand Embassy in Moscow.

On 18 December 1981, HM Queen Elizabeth consented to a title change and a new corps badge. The title was changed to the "Corps of Royal New Zealand Military Police".

Current role and employment[edit]

The current role of the RNZMP is to police the force, and provide police support to the mission. "Policing the force" refers to activities focussed internally on own troops, while "police support to the mission" refers to activities applied on a military force's objectives.

The five functional areas of RNZMP are:

  1. Policing Operations
  2. Investigation Operations
  3. Custodial Operations
  4. Security Operations
  5. Battlefield Circulation Control

Within New Zealand, RNZMP focuses primarily on policing operations to prevent crime affecting the military community, and investigations into incidents involving military personnel or property. MPs are also deployed on security tasks within NZ when required.

Deployed activities are focused primarily on the policing/investigation and security functional areas. MPs may form part of a multinational MP unit conducting own force policing and investigations, or may be deployed as a stand-alone MP element within an NZDF deployed force. MPs also provide Close Protection to Senior NZ military officers and government VIP within military theatres.

Law enforcement jurisdiction[edit]

RNZMP commissioned officers are appointed as "provost officers",[4] with the non-commissioned officers warranted to act on behalf of them. This provides RNZMP with jurisdiction over all personnel subject to the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971, meaning all service personnel (whether Navy, Army or Air Force) and in selected cases other personnel.[4]

MPs are also delegated specific powers that give them jurisdiction over all personnel, whether civilian or service person, within Defence Areas.[5] A Defence Area includes military camps and bases within NZ, RNZN ships, and other areas (both in NZ and other countries) may be declared a Defence Area in specific circumstances.[6]

When within New Zealand, the RNZMP must refer the most serious crimes (e.g. murder, rape) to the NZ Police. While deployed in an operational theatre, the RNZMP retains jurisdiction of all matters involving NZDF personnel up to and including murder and rape.


The Provost Marshal of the New Zealand Army (PM(A)) is an NZ Army colonel serving within Headquarters NZDF, usually as part of the human resources branch. The PM(A) is not an RNZMP officer, and is a secondary appointment held by that officer.

The Colonel Commandant has in recent times been a senior NZ Police officer. They are given the honorary rank of colonel, but the role is generally one of advocacy, removed from the command structure.

The Corps of RNZMP has one major unit, 1st (New Zealand) Military Police Company, which was until 2008 known as the Force Military Police Company. The majority of RNZMP personnel are posted to this unit, although there are some who are posted to other units within the NZDF.

The senior technical MP within the NZ Army is a major who holds the appointment of the Officer Commanding 1st (New Zealand) Military Police Company. The senior non-commissioned officer is a Warrant Officer Class 1 called the Provost Sergeant Major.

The sub-unit elements and locations of 1st (New Zealand) Military Police Company, are as follows:

Recruiting and training[edit]

Soldiers within the RNZMP are recruited from personnel already serving within the NZ Army, they cannot join directly. All applicants undergo a selection process. On selection, soldiers attend the Joint Service Police Basic Course conducted at the Military Police Training Wing in Trentham. This 10-week course trains the individual in basic military and criminal legislation, police procedures, use of force (defensive tactics), advanced driving, and basic investigative techniques. If they pass this course, the applicants are accepted into the RNZMP and allowed to wear the MP brassard/patch.

Officers accepted into the RNZMP conduct their initial training with the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police. They then attend the same RNZMP / Joint Service Police courses as MP soldiers, run at MP Training Wing. Additionally, RNZMP officers attend the courses attended by all officers within NZ Army.

Through their career, RNZMP personnel regularly return to MP Training Wing for continuing professional development courses. MP personnel also attend courses conducted at the Royal New Zealand Police College, and by allied MP such as the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police and the Royal Military Police.

Military police training was originally conducted at the Military Police School in Papakura Military Camp from 1949 to 1979. In February 1979, the MP School was moved to Trentham Camp and later became a Training Wing of (then) Force Military Police Company. MP Training Wing now conducts all (Army) military police training, and Joint Service Police training for RNZN Naval Police and RNZAF Force Protection personnel.

Courses conducted at MP Training Wing include investigative courses, security / close protection courses, and police command and planning courses. Instructors on the courses include serving MPs, Naval Police and (Air) Force Protection personnel; NZ Police personnel and various personnel from other Corps within the NZDF and other NZ Government Departments. Students attending MP Training Wing courses have included service personnel from Tonga, Fiji, Singapore, and Papua New Guinea.

All RNZMP soldiers and officers are trained in close protection and serious investigations (e.g. murder, rape, fraud) skills. There are no specialisations within the RNZMP.

Insignia and features[edit]

The "MP" patch identifies this woman as being a member of the New Zealand Defence Force Military Police.

Corps colours[edit]

The corps colours are royal blue and white. Until about 2002, when the NZ Army changed all personnel to a single beret colour (dark green), RNZMP personnel wore a bright blue beret as opposed to the red worn by most Commonwealth MP forces. It is thought that this is because the red colour was in use when the Corps was re-established;[7] however, a blue puggaree was worn on the headdress worn by MPs during World War II. Until the change in 2002, this was a useful distinction when dealing with own-force policing in a coalition environment.

"Outside of any national feelings, there is something about the red cap of the Corps of Military Police that makes it resemble the proverbial red rag, particularly if a man has had a few drinks. The hat with the blue puggaree worn by our Provost Corps was much less time went and men become tougher and war-weary, the arrival of the CMP undoubtedly caused irritation and sometimes bred increased violence."[8]

The blue and white colours remain on the corps belt and on the MP brassard or patch. The MP brassard is worn on the left arm with service dress while the MP Patch is worn on the right arm of camouflage uniform.

White lanyard[edit]

The RNZMP dress distinction is the white lanyard worn with service dress, which stems from the silver chain lanyard used to secure the police whistle previously used by MP.[7] It now consists of white knotted cord worn around the left shoulder, and affixed to the left breast pocket button, or second jacket button for women in Service Dress with jackets.

Corps birthday[edit]

The Corps of RNZMP birthday is 18 July (1952), the date when the 'Royal' prefix was granted.

Patron saint[edit]

The patron saint of the RNZMP is Saint Michael, as both the patron saint of police and soldiers.


The Corps of RNZMP has links with:


  1. ^ a b "History of the RNZMP", Precis, Military Police Training Wing
  2. ^ Official War Correspondent West of Tripoli, Auckland Star, 1 February 1943
  3. ^ Jenkin, R.R.J. 1942,Intelligence Summary, 1–5 July 1942, Available Wellington Archives.
  4. ^ a b Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971
  5. ^ Defence Regulations 1990
  6. ^ Defence Act 1990
  7. ^ a b New Zealand Army Publication 7, "Why?"
  8. ^ "Lessons from World War II", NZ Army

External links[edit]