As the sun rose on an estimated 400 people who turned out for Whangamata's second dawn service at the beach, the sight of the New Zealand and Australian flags being brought ashore in lifeboats brought an emotional lump to a throat or two.

In a modern-day replication of the landings at Normandy, the lifeguards leapt ashore carrying, not weapons but the flags of peace, and handed them to Whangamata Area School's head girl and boy.

Earlier, RSA chaplain Deacon Terri Sorenson remembered those who had passed in major conflicts.

Royal New Zealand Navy Lieutenant Jerry Kemp said today was the 100th year since Anzac Day was first commemorated.

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"This year also marks the 100th year since the New Zealand Expeditionary Force arrived on the Western front. Commemorations will be held in France and Belgium on September 15.

"The Western Front claimed 82 per cent of New Zealand's casualties in that war," Lt Kemp said.

He referred to the closs alliance forged between the Kiwis and Australians during World War I - "and that alliance continues today".

* The Civic Service in Whangamata will begin with a parade at 10am to the War Memorial Hall.

As the dawn rises, the Australian and New Zealand flags are brought ashore at Whangamata. Photo/Lesley Staniland
As the dawn rises, the Australian and New Zealand flags are brought ashore at Whangamata. Photo/Lesley Staniland