The Defence Medal was awarded for service in the forces in non-operational areas subjected to air attack or closely threatened for at least three years service in Great Britain until 8th May 1945 or one year in territories overseas until 2 September 1945.
The circular medal is made of cupro-nickel. It is 1.42 inches in diameter. The obverse shows the crowned coinage effigy of King George VI, facing left, and the legend GEORGIVS VI D : BR : OMN : REX ET INDIAE IMP. The reverse shows the Royal Crown resting above a small oak tree and flanked by two heraldic lions. The dates 1939 and 1945 appear in the top left and right respectively on the reverse, whilst beneath are the words ‘THE DEFENCE MEDAL’. The Medal is made of a Cupro-Nickel combination.
The Defence Medal was issued unengraved to New Zealand service persons, as were other Second World War campaign medals awarded for service for New Zealand.
The centre of the ribbon is flamed-coloured, and the edges are green, symbols of the enemy attacks on Great Britain. Two black stripes represent the blackout in Great Britain.