New Zealand's Special Operations Forces (NZSOF) are a highly capable Force, enabled by wider New Zealand Defence Force capability, that is responsive to the direction of the Chief of Defence Force and the New Zealand Government in pre-empting threats to New Zealand and its interests and providing military special operations support to domestic, regional and global security situations.
NZSOF is to be fully prepared to conduct special operations and activities in order to support Government of New Zealand objectives.
A globally networked SOF in partnership with interagency, allies and partners able to rapidly and persistently address regional contingencies and threats to stability. A force unique in size and dominant in profession.
Courage, Commitment, Comradeship and Integrity.
The SAS tenets were created by Colonel Sir David Stirling, DSO, OBE and the original Special Air Service leadership. NZSOF shares the tenets with 22 SAS Regiment (UK). Originally applied solely to the Regiment, all other elements of New Zealand’s Special Operations Forces are expected to adhere to these same tenets.
The descriptions of the tenets below are uniquely New Zealand interpretations of these underlying principles. They are depicted in the form of four Māori carvings that hang in the Traveller’s Rest area of the Papakura Garrison Mess flanking the Tenets Wall. They were presented to the unit by one of its former members.
Unrelenting pursuit of excellence (Hiranga Rerenga)
NZSOF maintains an unrelenting pursuit of excellence. This drive for knowledge and improvement is likened to a pilgrimage – and is a never ending journey. It is a team of free spirits bound to the pursuit of excellence, able to imagine the unconventional, whilst never taking themselves too seriously. Yet they hold themselves to the highest standards of discipline and when they look at individuals they look for their potential, not their position or their pedigree. In short, NZSOF believes in the equality and the potential of honourable men and women whose strength is in their humility and their desire ‘to go always a little further’. As a result the unit is agile and unpredictable.
Humour and humility (Whakakata Mahaki)
NZSOF believes in humour and humility. Humour is an essential ingredient in morale and for coping with the many dangers members of the unit face. Sir David Stirling said:
‘Without frequent recourse to humour and humility, our special status could cause resentment in other units…and an unbecoming conceit and big-headedness in our own soldiers.’
Whereas self-depreciating humour is an engaging example of humility, conceit is the fastest road to disaster. To that end, members of the Regiment seek confidence through knowledge and through trust in each other, but take care never to let this go so far that confidence becomes arrogance. Humility is powerful in that it keeps members open to new ideas and prevents them from becoming blind to their own failings.
Brook no sense of class (Ririte)
NZSOF brooks no sense of class. It is a team and a family. Its members are all of one company. Regardless of the position or path in life from which an individual has come, they earn their entry into the Regiment through selection and earn their right to remain through the daily commitment to excellence. In the words of Sir David Stirling:
‘We believe, as did the ancient Greeks, who originate the word ‘aristocracy’, that every man with the right attitude and talents, regardless of birth and riches, has a capacity in his own lifetime of reaching that status in its true sense.’
NZSOF believes less in rank and privilege than in every individual’s innate potential and personal responsibility to contribute to their fellows and to the mission. This is equality in its truest form. It is the bedrock upon which the Regiment is built and from which it takes its strength.
Highest standards of discipline (Whakahautanga)
NZSOF believes in maintaining the highest standards of discipline. This is self discipline. An organisation that has disciplined people, disciplined thinking and disciplined action is an organisation that wins. In maintaining the highest standards of discipline the need for bureaucracy and unnecessary rules is reduced. The Regiment relies on every individual to do what is right and to the right standard. It takes the right road, not the easy road. The result is agility and freedom to innovate.