The New Zealand Special Air Service Regiment (NZSAS) is the premier combat unit of the New Zealand Defence Force. The NZSAS is based in Auckland and comprises highly professional New Zealand soldiers and officers committed to the pursuit of excellence. Their motto is "who dares wins".
The NZSAS unit was established in June 1955 as an elite New Zealand Army unit capable of undertaking unconventional warfare. The unit was originally modelled on the British Special Air Service Regiment. The NZSAS has seen action in numerous theatres which include Malaya, Borneo, Indonesia, Vietnam and Afghanistan.
The NZSAS has several roles:
- Overseas operational missions - this work could see groups from the unit operating, in complex terrain and difficult situations, often for long periods of time on a range of missions and tasks.
- Counter-terrorism - soldiers of the NZSAS are trained to respond to a terrorist situation in support of the New Zealand Police at the request of the New Zealand Government.
Who can join the NZSAS?
Military personnel from either the regular or reserve component of the NZ Defence Force can apply to join the NZSAS. This is also open to the general public.
The majority of applicants have generally had at least two years military experience. Applicants need to be physically fit and have a high level of motivation. Find out more about careers in the NZ Army, Royal NZ Airforce, and Royal NZ Navy.
SAS "Selection" is a demanding course designed to identify self-disciplined soldiers and officers who are capable of working effectively as part of a small group under stressful conditions for long periods of time. Incredibly high standards are demanded because difficult mental, physical and emotional challenges can be encountered by NZSAS soldiers on real missions.
The course requires candidates to be rigorously assessed to determine their aptitude and suitability to begin training with the NZSAS. There are a number of physical and mental challenges that are conducted within a controlled environment and by the end of the selection course only the most motivated applicants will remain to go onto the next level - the rigorous training needed to become a member of the NZSAS. Completion of the selection course does not guarantee that a candidate will move onto the more demanding training phase.
The NZSAS Training Cycle
Successful candidates then undertake a long and intensive physical and mental training cycle. The programme involves building numerous skills which include navigation, weaponry, medical and demolition work – all core skills required to be an effective member of the unit. Candidates that complete this training cycle are accepted into the Unit at a badging ceremony where they receive the much coveted sand coloured beret and blue belt.
NZSAS Advanced Training
Once NZSAS troopers have earned their badge they then go on to learn advanced skills including parachuting, diving and boating, mountaineering, tracking and close quarter battle.
NZSAS soldiers and officers then continue their extensive training programmes in New Zealand and around the world, which often involves working alongside soldiers from other special force units.
Why can't the public know more about the NZSAS?
It is important that any information about the NZSAS released to the public does not compromise current and future operational security of the unit. The public have the right to know general information on the role, tasks and general outline of the history of the unit.
First Among Equals (Documentary)
The four-part SAS documentary series on TV3 Inside New Zealand provides greater public awareness of the purpose of the unit, the high level of performance, and focuses on the individual and team aspects of the unit.
View the First Among Equals Documentary on Youtube.
The Counter Terrorism Tactical Assault Group (CTTAG)
The Counter Terrorism Tactical Assault Group (CTTAG) is officially part of the NZSAS but these soldiers do not pass through the NZSAS selection course and are not permitted to wear the SAS's 'winged dagger' badge and belt. The CTTAG has the role of responding to terrorist incidents in New Zealand as part of the SAS role in support of the New Zealand Police. This group undertakes an intensive but abridged entry and training course with a focus on urban counter-terrorism responses.
Find out more about Army Careers or the pathway to a Career in the NZSAS.
Download information about the NZSAS in PDF [489 KB]
This page was last reviewed on 28 October 2014 and is current.