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Worn by some New Zealand Army units since the mid-1960s, it was not until 1973 that the wearing of stable belts (commonly referred to as Corps or Regimental Belts in the New Zealand Army) was authorised across the New Zealand Army. In adopting a stable belt, a few units adopted belts of a unique design; however, most New Zealand corps, regiments, and infantry battalions choose designs based on the regimental colours of a parent or allied units of the British Army. The three Logistics Corps of the NZ Army adopted stable belts of a British design, and it was not until 1996 and the formation of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) that a unique New Zealand Logistic stable belt was be adopted.
Stable belts have their origins in the British Army. Cavalrymen (and ASC and AOC personnel from trades associated with horses) found that by modifying a Cavalry “Surcingle,” they had a belt that was particularly useful in providing lower back support when cleaning stables and tending horses. As British military uniforms became more utilitarian, lacking the colour and flair of earlier patterns, the wearing of coloured “stable belts” in regimental colours evolved, adding a splash of colour and individuality to the drab khaki working uniforms of the period.
The use of coloured stable belts in regimental colours spread to all branches of the British Army, becoming established as a uniform item following World War Two. Most commonwealth countries followed the example of the British Army and adopted the coloured stable belt of the Corps or Regiments to which they had links or alliances. The adoption of stable belts by the NZ Army was far from enthusiastic, and it was not until the mid-1960s that stable belts started to appear. It was not until 1973 that the Army Dress Committee officially approved the universal wearing of stable belts for all Regiments and Corps of the NZ Army.
Stable Belts are generally manufactured from a 21/2- to a 3-inch-wide belt of a heavily woven material with horizontal stripes in two or more colours. Buckle types vary with six main types used.
Single tongue leather buckle. In NZ only used by the 4th Otago and Southland Battalion
Multi tongue leather buckle. Consisting of two leather buckles
Triple Locket. In NZ only used on the 5th Wellington West Coast Battalion Other Ranks Stable belt.
Rectangular plate (Matt colour or chromed) and Cap Badge design.
Web Belt clasp. Used on Interim RNZALR Stable belt.
RNZASC stable belt
Photographic evidence suggests that the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) adopted the British Army Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) stable belt sometime around 1970. However, the exact year is unknown. Until its disestablishment in1965, the RASC had worn a stable belt with a blue base with two central white stripes and two yellow stripes on the borders. A stable belt with a multi-tongue leather buckle, the RASC stable belt was worn with two leather buckles worn on the right hip. The Canadian ASC wore the same pattern stable belt up to 1968 and continues to be worn by the Malaysian Kor Perkhidmatan Diraja (Royal Logistics Corps).
In June 1973 the New Zealand Director of Supply and Transport requested from the Colonel Commandant of the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) permission for the RNZASC to adopt the RCT stable belt. Adopted by the RCT in 1965, permission for the RNZASC to adopt the RCT pattern belt was granted by the Colonel Commandant of the RCT in September 1973. Concurrent with the adoption of the RCT stable belt by the RNZASC, was the adoption of the same belt by the Royal Australian Corps of Transport (RACT) in 1973.
RNZCT stable belt
On 12 May 1979, the RNZASC ceased to exist, as its Supply functions were transferred to the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC), while the Transport, Movements and Catering functions were reformed into the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT). The RCT pattern stable belt continued to serve as the stable belt of the RNZCT throughout the RNZCTs existence within the NZ Army. The only change to the belt throughout its life was some subtle changes to the design of the buckle.
RNZAOC stable belt
There is much photographic evidence of RNZAOC officers and soldiers in Singapore unofficially wearing British (Single locket) and Malaysian (multi tongue leather buckle) Ordnance Corps stable belts during the 1970-72 period. The RNZAOC initially discussed introducing stable belts in 1969. However, at the time, the available orders of dress did not provide much opportunity to wear a Stable belt, and the preference of the RNZAOC was to adopt a coloured Lanyard. Approval for a Lanyard was not granted, so the Director of Ordnance Services submitted to the Amry Dress Committee on 4 April 1972 requesting authority for the RNZAOC to adopt a stable belt. Permission was granted due to the Army Dress Committee’s 4 April 1972 meeting. The RNZAOC Belt was to b the same pattern as the RAOC belt but had a rectangular chrome plate mounted with RNZAOC Badge.
RNZEME stable belt
With its distinctive dark blue background with red and yellow stripes, the stable belt of the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME)was introduced in 1967 and was based on the Royal and Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) stable belt. The upper portion of the right-hand buckle carried the Corps motto (Arte et Marte). The right-hand piece had the RNZEME badge.
RLC stable belt
In 1993, in the most significant reorganisation of its Logistic Support since 1965, the British Army formed the Royal Logistic Regiment (RLC) by combining the RCT, RAOC, Catering and Pioneer Corps into the new Regiment. Eager to retain the values and traditions of its foundation Corps and Regiments, the RLC retained many elements of its founding corps Regimental colours and the history they represented in the design of the RLC stable belt. The REME remained a separate Corps outside of the RLC.
RNZALR stable belt
In a similar initiative to the British Army’s formation of the RLC, the NZ Army also combined its logistic functions into a single Logistic Regiment. The significant difference between the British and New Zealand logistical changes was that the RNZEME was also disestablished and included in the NZ Logistic Regiment.
On 9 December 1996, the Officers and Soldiers of the RNZCT, RNZAOC and RNZEME marched onto parade grounds on each camp and base. Corps flags were lowered, headwear and stable belts exchanged, and the Officers and Soldiers marched off as members of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).
With the colourful stable belts of three RNZALR foundation corps and the collective history of service to New Zealand since 1840 that they represented retired, the RNZALR took a different approach to the RLC in selecting a new stable belt. While the RLC had embraced its foundation Corps’ values and traditions, the RNZALR divorced itself from the past and adopted a plain navy-blue stable belt.
As stock of the new RNZALR stable belt was not available on the formation of the New Regiment, a temporary belt was issued. Consisting of a navy-blue belt with Web Belt clasps, the interim belt was retired within a year as stocks of the new RNZALR Stable belt became available.
The only distinctive feature of the RNZALRs stable belt is locket style Chrome buckle, which includes the following features
The RNZALR Corps badge on the male side of the buckle
The RNZALR motto “Ma Nga Hua Tu Tangata”, on the female side of the buckle.