Hundreds of people woke up at dawn to attend the 6am service held at the Waihi Beach RSA.

RSA pesident Ron Munn opened the service followed by prayers by the officiating celebrant father Mulholland.

Guest speaker Captain (Rtd) Rex Williams Harris was invited to speak.

Mr Harris saw active service in Malaysia and Borneo between 1959 and 1966 which included two years with the New Zealand Special Air Service (SAS). He began his carreer as an Infantry non-commissioned soldier and completed 32 years' service retiring in 1985 in the rank of Captain.

Advertisement

"I am not giving you a lesson of history, I am going to talk about our family," he started.

Mr Harris had two of his great uncle, two of his grand mothers' sons and three of them married the family after WWI.

One of his great uncle, Joshua Thomas Cuff joined the New Zealand Field Artillery on August 15, 1914, and eventually ended up in Gallipoli as a gunner.

"All soldiers in the New Zealand division were in and out of the line for 10 days. When you came out of the line you were given another task to do whether It was digging tunnels, trench digging, fighting, reinforcing, retrainning and going back into the battle again.

Those men, he said, were aged between 19 and 34 years old.

"Life was tough, life was hard, life was fearful."

"Whever you were in the war you keep your head down. I have been keeping my head down ever since," he said.

Official parties were invited to lay a wreath - the Navy, the RSA and the Woman section, the Western Bay of Plenty District council represented by Waihi Beach chairman Allan Sole, the police, the fire fireghter and St John as well as Waihi Beach primary school.

Thirteen-year-old Hamilton high school student and bugler Hamish Templeton closed the service.

He said he has been playing bugle for the past 5 years.

"It came naturally to me to play at Anzac because my dad was in the army."

Public was invited to lay a wreath before attending a communal breakfast at the RSA.