In 1996, when
New Zealand revised its royal honours system, New Zealanders ceased to receive the Polar Medal. It was proposed that the medal would be preserved, with a new name, under New Zealand regulations: the
New Zealand Antarctic Medal. The rationale for the renaming was that it is in relation to Antarctica that New Zealand's endeavours and achievements have been made. The Report on honours that recommended the change contained the inaccurate claim that the medal was named after the North Pole. The new medal was formally instituted by the
Queen of New Zealand on 1 September 2006.
 In 2016 the medal was awarded to
Kim Crosbie for her work in both the Arctic and the Antarctic.
 Also in 2016,
Agnieszka Fryckowska was awarded a Polar Medal at Buckingham Palace.