A builder who attended an Anzac Day parade wearing a NZSAS beret and "Who Dares Wins" badge did not serve in the elite regiment or any of the places associated with the medals on his chest, says the Defence Force.

Rob Clark, 43, sat at the Anzac Day dusk service at Takapuna Grammar last week with the sand-coloured beret of the NZSAS on his knee and the elite unit's regimental tie knotted at his throat.

The medals professed a service which ranged across the globe - an analysis carried out for the Herald on Sunday showed acknowledgement for service including Kuwait, Iraq, the Solomon Islands and Timor.

Clark even had on his chest the United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the NZSAS by President George W Bush for service in Afghanistan from October 17, 2001 until March 20, 2002.

Advertisement

It was an award presented for "extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action".

But the Defence Force said although Clark served in the Army for two years in the 1990s, it had "no records of him serving with the NZSAS, or serving overseas".

Clark told the Herald on Sunday he was "not at liberty" to discuss his service. He said he was a former student at Takapuna Grammar and the dusk service at the school was "a very special occasion for me".

Asked if the Defence Force was wrong, he said: "Yes."

Clark said: "My service is my personal business. What you're going into is something I don't want to discuss."

The act of wearing medals which have not been earned is prohibited under the Military Decorations and Distinctive Badges Act 1918.

Wearing a medal that has not been properly earned carries a maximum $500 fine under the law but is also contradictory, saying the fine should be "20 pounds" and jail "not exceeding one month".

Medals Reunited NZ founder Ian Martyn carried out an analysis of the rack of medals and the presidential citation. Martyn personally designed the ribbon for one of the medals Clark was photographed wearing.

"The guy appears to have been too many places, too quickly. There does seem to be an awful lot jammed in there. I feel there are too many missions."

The missions identified by Martyn from the medals on Clark's chest included recognition for United Nations' deployments and General Service Medals for Iraq, Timor and the Solomon Islands.

Not only were they arranged in the wrong places on the rack, but were impossible for Clark to have earned given NZDF's statement that he had never served overseas and wasn't even in the NZ Army during the Timor and Solomon Islands deployments.

Robert Clark had the sand-coloured beret of the NZSAS on his knee.
Robert Clark had the sand-coloured beret of the NZSAS on his knee.

Martyn said wearing medals that were not earned was "abhorrent to veterans".

Australia had strengthened policies around military impostors and there were moves in the UK to do the same.

"We haven't got to that stage in New Zealand. The RSA should lead that to some extent."

RSA national president Barry "BJ" Clark said cases cropped up around Anzac Day and even included someone recently turning up at a parade wearing a Victoria Cross, the highest of military awards in the Commonwealth.

"It does make me angry that a person would infiltrate a group that has served a country. These medals are a record of service and an indication of the gratitude of the country they had served."

A spokesman for an investigative group aimed at rooting out those wearing medals they haven't earned told the Herald on Sunday there needed to be tougher penalties.

Incoming defence minister Mark Mitchell said he would seek information from NZDF about the prevalence of people wearing medals they haven't earned.