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As a Chaplain of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, you are appointed to provide ministry to Air Force personnel (both military and civilian) and their families.

  • Service
    Air Force
  • Specialisation
    Medical and Health
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
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About the role

As a Chaplain of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, you are appointed to provide ministry to Air Force personnel (both military and civilian) and their families. You are expected to be a friend and advisor to all. It is a unique ministry which can take you to the four corners of the earth, on sea, or land deployments, wherever Air Force personnel are required to serve. You are an integral part of the Air Force and Defence Force Team.

You are responsible at both official and personal levels, for conducting religious services and ceremonial duties. You are also required to provide spiritual, religious and moral advice and assist with life-skills education. You are there to provide pastoral care to all personnel. You need to be available to assist in times of crisis or emergency, both at the personal and organisational level and are expected to observe a high level of confidentiality.

Job on deployment

While on deployment a Chaplain will conduct many of the same duties as in their camp/base role, as well as duties specific to an operational environment.


Due to the increased danger and higher risk to life while in theatre, a Chaplain may be called upon to conduct funerals/tangi, conduct memorial services or assist with Critical Incident Management. In line with this they may be required to provide ongoing grief support with a view to keeping deployed personnel focussed on the mission.


Chaplains seek to be a non anxious presence. They can also act as a bridge builder between the host community and the contingent, especially where religion is held in high regard.


As a trained first-line counsellor, the Chaplain fosters morale and nurtures the human spirit/wairua. 

Job on base

You will wear the uniform, come under the Defence Act, and undergo the same indoctrination and training as others who take up the profession-of-arms. As a Chaplain, however, you will be primarily concerned for the spiritual and pastoral care of the individual, and bring to the NZ Army your particular skills which will include:

  • A professional theological qualification, having been trained to perform all the functions of clergy
  • A wide variety of experiences of life and integrated belief systems, bringing a vital faith which enables Soldiers to address the many challenges of Service life
  • By virtue of your ordination, you will be called to a ministry committed to a life of service, and to a self-sacrificing concern for the welfare of others
  • With your commitment to pastoral care you will bring a willingness to challenge those issues which need to be confronted and to speak out when necessary, and to champion truth and justice at any cost

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

Ongoing Training

You will enter the Air Force with the support of your Church and remain under its discipline for the exercise of your ordination/accreditation vows. Chaplaincy therefore is an institution of both NZDF and the Church and you will need the on-going support of both.

Both the Church and NZDF needs to understand this partnership and the possible areas of tension. It is also important that you to understand this unique relationship and to appreciate that you will have two distinct but complementary lines of accountability.

You will be required to pass an Officer's Selection Board before undertaking the RNZAF Regular Officer Course. Defence Force Chaplains are commissioned on successful completion as a Chaplain Class 4 (Flight Lieutenant). Your progress through the Chaplaincy Classes, with each Chaplaincy Class corresponding to an Officer rank level, is based on demonstrated job performance and ongoing professional development, although time in rank does not guarantee progression to the next class.


RNZAF Officer Commissioning Course (ROC)

A career in the RNZAF as a Chaplain is offered in a full-time capacity only, for ab-initio candidates. 

(26 weeks) Location: RNZAF Base Woodbourne

All individuals selected to become a Chaplain in the RNZAF are required to complete training as a Commissioned Officer. This training is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and experience necessary for commissioned service in the RNZAF and the beginning of a career in leadership. This course will cover various subjects including:

  • RNZAF Customs and Protocol
  • Drill and Parades
  • Military Law
  • Military Field Skills and Weapons Training
  • Defence and Strategic Studies
  • Personnel Administration
  • Communication Skills
  • Command, Leadership and Management
  • First Aid

NZDF Chaplains are required to be qualified in theological, military and chaplain specialist matters. To ensure you are qualified to appropriate levels, military and some chaplaincy training will be given in initial, continuation and advanced stages of your career with the RNZAF.

You will be also be required to maintain links with your own denomination, attending training events, retreats, and annual conferences as appropriate. Chaplains may also be required to attend suitable military administration and staff courses during their career.

There are a number of short courses that Chaplains are encouraged to do to assist them in their role with the RNZAF including:

  • Prepare/Enrich
  • Assist Suicide Prevention Training
  • Advanced Counselling Techniques Courses
  • Bi-cultural understanding and awareness 
  • Appropriate use of Te Reo 
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Salary and benefits

Careers in the Air Force are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Military Factor

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accommodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Entry requirements



Fitness and medical



  • Be ordained, licensed, commissioned or otherwise fully authorised to officiate on behalf of your denomination
  • Have normally completed five years full-time pastoral ministry since ordination
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain SV security clearance for this trade
  • Be medically fit for service
  • Be of good character – including a comprehensive police record check
  • Be free of any criminal convictions for the previous two years

Applicants are to have a recognised tertiary theological qualification and experience in Pastoral Ministry in accordance with their own denominational requirements. In addition applicants must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Familiarity with and application of standard computer systems 
  • Be in good standing with their denomination, and have the support of their denomination
  • Have your application endorsed by the Chaplains Defence Advisory Council
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to relate effectively with a diverse range of people

You will be expected to pass both routine medical examinations and ongoing fitness tests. 

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required SV security clearance for this trade.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

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