The Merchant Navy Association says it is disappointing that the announcement of a day of remembrance has taken so long, and it will continue its battle for greater recognition.
The Government has declared 3 September as Merchant Navy Day.
More than 130 New Zealand merchant seafarers were killed in World War II.
The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chris Finlayson, says the Merchant Navy played a critical role in wartime and the day acknowledges its contribution and sacrifice.
But the president of the Merchant Navy Association, Ian Dymock, says the day is a declaration only and it will push for a full proclamation which offers greater recognition.