25 Apr 2024

Anzac Day: Veterans acknowledged at services around NZ, in Pacific and Gallipoli

6:05 pm on 25 April 2024

Anzac Day has been marked around New Zealand, the Pacific and at Gallipoli, with Winston Peters speaking at the dawn service in Turkey.

The Foreign Affairs minister and Deputy Prime Minister told attendees in Gallipoli to draw their own lessons from being there, but to come together to honour those who had paid with their lives.

Describing the world as "troubled" and "the worst in memory", Peters said diplomacy had never been more needed to de-escalate conflicts and ease tensions.

"We have emerged from a global pandemic a more divided world. Regional instabilities and the chaos they create threaten the security of too many.

"We must all do more. Demand more. And deliver more."

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters speaks at the Gallipoli Anzac Dawn Service.

Deputy prime minister Winston Peters speaks at Gallipoli. Photo: Screenshot / ABC

Wellington wind plays havoc with national memorial

Meanwhile, wind buffeted Wellington's Hall of Memories as those affected by wars past and present were acknowledged in an intimate ceremony.

The scaled-down national Anzac service was held in the small room under the Cenotaph at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park after high winds saw a larger, public service cancelled.

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage said it was "very unfortunate", but the decision had been made for the health and safety of veterans, visitors and guests.

The Wellington ceremony was among a raft of services held throughout Aotearoa on Thursday morning to mark Anzac Day.

In the Hall of Memories, the walls were adorned with the New Zealand coat of arms, flags, and remembrance plaques, and sunshine streamed through the stained glass windows.

Veterans and dignitaries laid wreaths near a statue named 'Mother and Children', representing families left behind during wartime.

A private Anzac ceremony is held at the Hall of Memories at Pukeahu after a larger public ceremony was cancelled due to high winds.

The 'Mother and Children' statue in the Hall of Memories. Photo: Angus Dreaver/RNZ

Major General Martyn Dunne from the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association (RSA) told those assembled that Anzac Day was a time to remember all those who served New Zealand in times of war.

He acknowledged those currently serving around the globe, including those assisting Ukraine.

Governor-General acknowledges all wars at Wellington's dawn service

Earlier, Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro said the purpose of Anzac Day had expanded to include "all other wars and armed conflicts in which New Zealand has been involved, as well as our ongoing efforts in peacekeeping".

At the Wellington dawn service, Dame Cindy extended a "special greeting" to New Zealand and Australian veterans who had gathered to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of New Zealand Defence Force operations in Somalia.

She also acknowledged the 80th anniversary of a number of "significant campaigns" during World War II - among them, the Battle of Cassino, the operations on Nissan Island near Bougainville, and D-Day.

More than 250,000 New Zealanders had served in war and peacekeeping operations, and of those, 30,000 had died, she said.

"Every New Zealand community has in some way been touched by our experience of war."

A private Anzac ceremony is held at the Hall of Memories at Pukeahu after a larger public ceremony was cancelled due to high winds.

Dame Cindy Kiro at the service at the Hall of Memories. Photo: Angus Dreaver/RNZ

Also speaking at the dawn service was General Angus Campbell, the chief of the Australian Defence Force.

He said an "unrivalled heritage" of service linked Australia and New Zealand.

Their story was one of "mateship, bravery and determination against the odds", he said.

"Today, Australia and New Zealand stand together in an increasingly challenging world. Together, we continue the Anzac story."

NZ owes its democracy and freedom to servicepeople - PM Christopher Luxon

In Auckland, thousands gathered at the Auckland War Memorial Museum for a dawn service.

Among them was Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, who said Anzac Day was a "sacred" day.

Returned servicemen at the dawn service in Auckland

Veterans at the Auckland service. Photo: RNZ/Marika Khabazi

"It's a day for us all to commemorate, remember and to be grateful for Kiwi servicemen and women in the past and also in the present that actually stand up and fight for the values that we believe in as a country," he said.

"We have the democracy that we have today, we have the freedoms that we have today because of that service."

Veteran Steve Matheson, who served in Bosnia in the 1990s and later worked for the RSA, said he came to the Auckland service to remember.

"There's a lot of old diggers that have gone, so you remember that, but it's also about younger guys like me.

"We've got a lot of Afghan vets and younger people out there who have served their country all over the place."

Matheson joked that he brought his three children to dawn parades every year "whether they like it or not".

"They still follow that tradition. It's a family thing, it's a personal thing."

Christchurch dawn service a 'special occasion'

A wreath is laid at the dawn service in Christchurch

Wreaths are laid during the dawn service in Christchurch's Cathedral Square. Photo: RNZ/Nathan McKinnon

In Christchurch, veteran Kereama Nepia Chalmers went to the dawn service in Cathedral Square on behalf of his family.

Veterans paraded from Worcester Bridge to the square, and tributes were laid at the Citizens' War Memorial during the service.

Chalmers said his grandfather was in the Black Watch and he had uncles who were in the Māori Battalion.

"It's a special occasion for me to come along and support them as a soldier and to stand there for them, and to remember them."

Springbank School student Hunter Blakeman leads the Kerikeri civic service.

Springbank School student Hunter Blakeman leads the Kerikeri civic service. Photo: RNZ/Peter de Graaf

School students run Kerikeri services

Meanwhile, in Northland's Kerikeri, both the dawn and civic services were organised by school students for the first time.

Kerikeri RSA president Bill Godfrey - a Vietnam veteran - said it was his intention to hand over responsibility for Anzac Day commemorations to a new generation.

That would ensure the tradition would continue into the future as RSA members aged, he said.

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