The Government has decided to introduce a new Defence Force medal for non-operational military service.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said today the Returned Services Association had proposed the medal for several years.

"Fulfilling this commitment will enable New Zealanders who have served to receive recognition similar to that of Australia," he said.

"The new medal will acknowledge the unique requirements of military service...being liable for operational service and being subject to military discipline and lifestyle."

A working group has been set up to decide criteria for eligibility.