Help and support


Choosing your career path is a big decision. There's always lots of questions you'll have. Here's some of the most frequently asked ones:

Can I have tattoos and piercings?

Tattoos are acceptable, provided they're appropriate for a military environment and are complementary to the Defence Force’s values and image. Each service has clear guidelines regarding this. Cultural tattoos are permitted, however highly visible tattoos with inappropriate or offensive content are not acceptable.

Women are allowed to have their ears pierced. Only one piercing in each ear is acceptable, and all other visible piercings are not permitted.

What options are available for maternity leave?

This is an important time in your life and we recognise that. In the Defence Force you can enjoy family life like everyone else. 

We're family-friendly, and offer generous leave policies to support working parents. If you're planning a family you can take parental leave, and we provide you with support to reintegrate into working life, including getting fit again. You may also be eligible to receive a 'return to work' incentive payment, which is equivalent to six weeks salary and payable six months after your return from parental leave.

You can continue to breast-feed if you choose. Nursing mothers may be able to make arrangements with their commanders and managers to establish an appropriate location for breast-feeding and expressing milk. However, personal needs must always be balanced with high priority unit or operational activities.

There's also an annual leave allowance to use at your discretion, and flexibility around leave for school holidays, or if you need to care for a sick child.

How do I take care of personal hygiene when I'm in the field?

It's important to maintain high hygiene standards for your health and well-being.

When you're in the field, and don’t have access to bathroom facilities, you'll be taught during initial recruit training how to tactically, safely and appropriately take care of all personal hygiene matters – and you'll always be able to maintain your privacy and discretion. Most women carry wet-wipes, and enough spare socks and underwear.

When you're conducting high-intensity training, or if your team is on the move, you'll have to improvise and take the opportunity to go to the toilet during rest breaks. On longer and larger training exercises, involving combat service support, there may be proper toilet areas (port-a-loos) and field showers set up.

On operational deployments, regardless of what service you're in, the accommodation, ablution and shop/canteen facilities are established to a comfortable and hygienic standard. Depending on the location and situation this can vary from military or local suppliers, and from military tents to a hotel room or a locally rented property. 

Can I attend evening social events off-base, after work?

We believe passionately in providing an excellent work-life balance. The hours you work will be similar to any role in civilian life, with most of your weekends free. Of course, if you’re on exercise, on operations, or responding to a critical situation, then you'll need to be flexible about this.

Downtime can be spent however you wish. You might want to socialise on base with your friends, and you can invite your civilian friends on base as long as they're escorted at all times. You might also just want to get away from the base and visit family, or go into town for a night out.

There are gyms and swimming pools for exercise and recreation, and bars to relax in. If you need a bit of peace and quiet for study or reading, there’s a well-stocked library. There is a shop and café, hobby huts and many clubs for you to join, including anything from cycling to skiing to Kapa Haka.

As an enlisted service member it's important that your personal conduct both on and off duty is responsible, respectful and appropriate. If you're likely to be consuming alcohol, we encourage our personnel to drink responsibly, organise safe and sober travel home after a night out, and to look out for each other’s safety and well-being. 

Can I change jobs once I'm in the Defence Force?

Initial service and trade selection is really important. It pays to do your homework so that you make an informed decision, as both you and the Defence Force will be investing a lot of time, energy and money over the course of your career.

Due to career progression and regular posting cycles, you'll be changing jobs every couple of years, so there are always opportunities for new challenges, to gain new skills, and to live and work in different places with different people.

In some circumstances it's possible to change trade once you’re in the Defence Force. However, trade and service changes can be a lengthy process, and will depend on a number of factors, so it's not guaranteed.

You can resign from the Defence Force and typically we require three months notice. However, during times of increased operational activity, or if you're required to complete a Return of Service Obligation, you may be required to continue serving until you have completed your required duties or service period.

Can I keep studying outside the Defence Force?

Yes – you can choose what to do with your free time, and if you want to pursue further education you can. If the study is related to your trade, the Defence Force may pay for it or subsidise your course fees. You may even be allowed to spend some work-time studying, depending on the course and the demands of your job.


What sort of tests will I have to sit to get in?

All new recruits undergo a series of aptitude tests, on paper. There are also extra tests delivered for those applicants who are applying for air crew roles. The purpose of the aptitude tests is to find out which NZDF roles might suit you, your aptitude and your interests. There are six aptitude tests administered for everyone regardless of Service; and two extra for RNZAF Aircrew. The series of six tests will assess:

  • Abstract reasoning – your ability to work through patterns quickly and accurately.
  • Numerical reasoning – two tests that assesses your ability to work with decimals, fractions and mathematical formulae. The second test is set at a higher level, where some roles require a better knowledge of mathematics.
  • Verbal reasoning – your ability to use and interpret written information. In this test you'll be asked to match words of the same meaning.
  • Mechanical reasoning – your ability to work through mechanical processes.
  • General intelligence – your educational and training potential.

 Those applicants who are applying for air crew roles, will sit one or two additional tests:

  • Flight mathematics – your ability to work out speed, distance, flight time and fuel consumption calculations.
  • Aircraft instrumentation comprehension – your ability to work out how the aircraft is orientated or travels through the air.

By looking at a range of different aptitudes, the NZDF can get an accurate picture of where your potential lies. If you would like to have a go at doing the practice tests before attending your Assessment Day. The practice test questions will be similar to those featured in the tests. Find a quiet place – free from noise or interruption before attempting the practice tests.

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