D Squadron (Commando) was raised on 5 December 2005 under the name Counter Terrorist Tactical Assault Group (CTTAG). They were selected and trained by the Operational Support Squadron and B Squadron NZSAS. By 2009, the CTTAG had matured to the point that it had grown its own Officer Commanding and NCOs. In recognition of this, on 5 December 2009, the CTTAG was renamed ‘Commandos’ and became D Squadron (Commando), a separate sub-unit on the 1 NZSAS Regt Order of Battle.
The principal role of D Squadron (Commando) is to provide a specialist domestic counter-terrorist capability to the New Zealand Defence Force. It is also tasked with providing support to its parent unit as well as other Government agencies and conventional military forces as required.
The Commando crest consists of two stylised silver ferns, two commando knives in the guard position and a taiaha at the ready position. The combination of these elements symbolise the attributes and skills that a Commando must achieve and maintain while serving in 1 NZSAS Regt.
The silver fern on a black background is the official New Zealand emblem. Consequently, it was chosen to border the Commando emblem instead of a laurel wreath which is more traditional on foreign military emblems. The colours of black and white are also significant to the Commando emblem. They are New Zealand’s national colours, but in the context of the Commando emblem, black is synonymous with counter-terrorist forces and white has been modified to match the colour of gun metal.
Central to the emblem is a taiaha which is positioned at ‘popotahi’ or ‘ready to strike’, symbolising a Commando’s need to be constantly vigilant. Taiaha are traditional weapons of the New Zealand Māori and in the hands of a skilled warrior they are lethal close quarter weapons. Therefore, the inclusion of a taiaha in the Commando emblem serves to remind the observer of Commandos’ skill in a wide range of close quarter weapons. The taiaha used within the Commando emblem is modelled on a ‘taonga’ or gift given to the assault operators by a Staff Sergeant on his departure as the inaugural Assault Sergeant. His taonga was selected to use out of respect for the mana he imbued in the original team.
The emblem is brought together by two Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knives. Commonly known as Commando knives, they are a twin-edged dagger with a foil-like grip developed by William Ewart Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes in Shanghai prior to World War II. The Fairbairn-Sykes has earned a fearsome reputation for its ability to eliminate the enemy in battle quickly and with precision. The knives in the emblem are crossed in ‘saltire’ or ‘on guard’, which symbolises the New Zealand Commandos’ protective role as a counter-terrorist force.
At the centre of the emblem the knives and taiaha combine, symbolising ‘three Services as one’. It is this union from which the emblem takes its name – ‘Trinity’.