25 Apr 2012

Thousands remember brave Anzacs at Gallipoli

10:04 pm on 25 April 2012

The New Zealand Government's representative has told thousands attending the Anzac Day dawn service in Gallipoli the battle is etched in the country's national psyche.

This year marks the 97th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand Corps at Gallipoli Peninsula during World War I on 25 April 1915. Some 2721 New Zealand soldiers died and 7500 were wounded, while more than 8700 Australians lost their lives in battle.

Defence Forces from both nations officiate at the ceremony at Anzac Cove on alternate years. New Zealand Navy Commander Glen Stokes was master of ceremonies on Wednesday and joined 17 other New Zealand personnel in carrying out the service.

New Zealand's Veterans' Affairs Minister Nathan Guy told those gathered that Gallipoli is a sacred space.

"Gallipoli is widely regarded as a significant milestone in the emergence of our unique New Zealand identity. The human cost of that campaign and the fighting on the Western Front left no community untouched in our small community."

He paid tribute to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the strong military and personal bond shared with Australia.

"You said wherever Australia and New Zealand blood has been shed, it remains sacred ground. As the resting place for so many of our war dead, Gallipoli has become one such sacrosanct place for all New Zealanders."

Mr Guy said his visit also involved preparations for centennial commemorations at Gallipoli in 2015 and maintaining good relations with Australia and Turkey will ensure a successful day.

"I feel extremely privileged to be here representing the Government. It's great relationship-building between Turkey, New Zealand and Australia while we focus towards 2015 and ensuring that we can make it special for those that want to come and attend - both in New Zealand and also here in Turkey."

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard paid tribute to "the men who came from the ends of the earth to fight a far off war" in her address on Wednesday.

"For the allies, this was a battle of nations fought by great powers and the might of their empires for a wider strategic goal.

"For the Turks, this was a defence of the soil and sanctity of home, for which Ataturk ordered his men not only to attack but to die.

"And the men who fought here from our nation, our allies and from Turkey did die terrible deaths that spared no age or rank or display of courage."

The day's events also included an Australian Memorial Service at Lone Pine - the battlefield where some of the worst fighting occurred in 1915 - and a New Zealand Memorial Service at Chunuk Bair.

Turkish official receives NZ honour

A former deputy governor of the Turkish province that covers Gallipoli has been made an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Ali Partal, a former deputy governor of Canakkale, received the award from Veterans' Affairs Minister Nathan Guy at a ceremony in the province on Tuesday.

Mr Guy said the award recognises the tremendous support Mr Partal provided for Anzac Day commemorations from 2005 to 2011.

He said by overseeing the installation of a new roading network, Mr Partal has transformed the Gallipoli peninsula into a safe venue for the thousands of visitors who go there each year from New Zealand and Australia.

"For New Zealand to acknowledge his contribution goes a long way to forging our ongoing relationships, which is hugely important, with the Turkish government."

Nathan Guy said Mr Partal is the first Turkish citizen to receive a New Zealand honour.