Obverse: A Royal Crown superimposed over a crossed sword and taiha (Maori spear). The whole are surrounded by fern fronds.

Reverse: The inscription “FOR LONG AND EFFICIENT SERVICE”.

Size: 37mm in diameter.

Ribbon: 38mm wide, the ribbon is crimson in colour with two central white stripes.

Suspension: The ribbon is threaded through a 14mm diameter ring, which passes through a loop fixed to the top of the piece. The ring will move forwards and backwards.

This award was instituted in 1887 as The New Zealand Volunteer Long and Efficient Service Medal. It was awarded to non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the New Zealand Volunteers upon completion of 16 years continuous service. In 1891, the statutes of the award were amended to include Volunteer officers. Further amendments were made in 1917 to cover Territorial officers who were permanently appointed to the New Zealand Staff Corps or Permanent Staff, and finally in 1920 to all members of the New Zealand Military Forces.

The medal was originally suspended from a plain crimson ribbon. In 1917 two additional white centre stripes were added to differentiate the ribbon from other long service medals. Names on awards up until 1921 were engraved in blackened upright or sloping capitals. After that date, awards were impressed in small capitals. The New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal was rendered obsolete with the standardisation of awards on 23 September 1931.

A total of 2,384 awards were made between the date of institution and the award of a late claim in 1955.