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The New Zealand Special Air Service, abbreviated as the NZSAS, was formed on 7 July 1955 and is the special forces unit of the New Zealand Army, closely modelled on the British Special Air Service (SAS). It traces its origins to the Second World War and the famous Long Range Desert Group that New Zealanders served with.
The New Zealand Government states that NZSAS is the “premier combat unit of the New Zealand Defence Force” and it has been operationally deployed to locations including the Pacific region, Afghanistan and the jungles of South-East Asia. Individual members of the NZSAS have received honours and awards, most notably the Victoria Cross for New Zealand awarded to Corporal Willie Apiata. In 2004, the unit was awarded the United States Presidential Unit Citation for its contribution in Afghanistan.
The NZSAS was accorded regimental status in 2013. It has the responsibility of conducting counter-terrorism and overseas special operations, and performing the disposal of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive hazards for military and civilian authorities.