Kiwi celebrities including acclaimed filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson are encouraging fellow New Zealanders to support this year's Returned and Services Association Poppy Appeal.

Thousands of volunteers are shaking the tins and selling the distinctive red poppies on street corners in towns and cities across the country today, Poppy Day.

Last year, ahead of the centenary commemorations of the landings at Gallipoli, the appeal raised a record $2.5 million.

The money goes to the Returned and Services Association (RSA) to help assist current and former servicemen and women, including New Zealand Police, and their partners, dependants and widow or widowers, with or without operational service overseas.

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Hollywood legend Sir Peter Jackson, a founding member of the RSA National Association, urged Kiwis to honour the more recent and ongoing services. Photo / Getty Images
Hollywood legend Sir Peter Jackson, a founding member of the RSA National Association, urged Kiwis to honour the more recent and ongoing services. Photo / Getty Images

It includes contemporary servicemen and women, as well as older veterans going back as far as World War II.

The theme of this year's appeal is, 'Remember to care', and encourages New Zealanders to honour the memory of the service people who have gone before, by supporting those serving in the modern-day Defence Force.

Hollywood legend Sir Peter Jackson, a founding member of the RSA National Association, urged Kiwis to honour the more recent and ongoing services.

"Remembering those who served New Zealand during the First and Second World War is important - their blood runs in our veins," he said.

"But many who served in more recent times, in places such as Vietnam, Bougainville, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq, are now in need of our help.

"By wearing the poppy and making a contribution on Poppy Day you are both honouring the past, and caring for those in the present."

Star of hit Kiwi film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Oscar Kightley also backed the RSA's recognition of the broad range of Kiwis who have served and are serving for our country.

"While the Anzacs landing at Gallipoli is probably the conflict that immediately comes to mind, there have been many times in our history when ordinary Kiwis went to fight on foreign shores for values that were held dear at home," he said.

Anzac Day is when Newstalk ZB host Rachel Smalley honours her great-grandfather and grandfather who fought in World War I and World War II respectively.

"I think of them when I pin on my poppy," she said.

As a serving soldier whose husband was killed in service in Afghanistan, Tina Grant said it's her responsibility to keep memories of her husband alive for his children, family and comrades.

"The poppy signifies to me, not sadness or a reminder of blood that was shed but the beautiful, vibrant lives and memories that have been left for us to remember," she said.

She urged people to give generously for those left behind, the veterans who still struggle with daily life, and "our children who continue to live without a parent".

• Donation to street appeal collectors today. Z stations have supersized poppies available to display on cars or windows. People can also contribute $3 by texting POPPY to 4662, or online at www.rsa.org.nz