Anzac Day: Thousands of New Zealanders pay their respects to those who fought at Gallipoli

By Bay of Plenty Times, Kurt Bayer, Ben Hill, Belinda Feek, Rotorua Daily Post, Solbin Kang, Lynley Bilby

As it happened: Anzac Day around New Zealand

Thousands of people - and some animals - gathered at Anzac Day dawn services around the country this morning.

There was no sign of yesterday's rain as Kiwis wrapped themselves in blankets, beanies and scarves to face the cold and stand solemly in the dark to pay their respects to the 2721 Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli during World War I.

Those who served in other conflicts were also remembered.

The Herald was at services around the country.

Wellington

At the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, resident Fay McGregor had wrapped around her an old army blanket with poppies attached that she had made last year to commemorate the centenary.

The words "Lest we forget" were also embroidered on the blanket.

Her husband's great grandfather was killed in Second World War.

"It was a really lovely service this morning," Mrs McGregor said.

"Last year was really special."

To commemorate 100 years of ANZAC, Wellington resident Fay McGregor took an old army blanket and attached poppies. Photo / Solbin Kang
To commemorate 100 years of ANZAC, Wellington resident Fay McGregor took an old army blanket and attached poppies. Photo / Solbin Kang

Private Tukotahi Phillips, a Reserve Force soldier in 5th/7th Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, brought his one-month-old son, Rawiri to the dawn service.

Private Tukotahi Phillips with his one-month-old son, Rawiri. Photo / Solbin Kang
Private Tukotahi Phillips with his one-month-old son, Rawiri. Photo / Solbin Kang

The little boy was dressed similar to his dad - who is based at Trentham Military Camp in Upper Hutt - in a full camouflage onesie, green hat with a poppy on it and his dad's medal on his lapel.

Rawiri slept peacefully when the Herald spoke to his father.

"We'll be taking him to the dawn service every year," said Private Phillips.

"My dad served in the army in the infantry regiment and I'm wearing his medals as well as mine."

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Graham McColl's father and his father's three brothers all fought in the First World War. One of his uncles died, he said.

Mr McColl, who turns 80 this year, has attended the dawn service for the past eight years to remember his family who fought the war.

He proudly wore his father's war medals on his right-hand side and also wore his Order of Merit medal he gained for his services to hospitality at Waikato polytechnic on his left-hand side of his coat.

"It gives me an opportunity to remember my family every year and for the medals to be displayed," Mr McColl said.

Thousands gathered at Wellington's Pukehau National War Memorial for the Anzac Dawn Service. Photo / Solbin Kang
Thousands gathered at Wellington's Pukehau National War Memorial for the Anzac Dawn Service. Photo / Solbin Kang

The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, addressed the crowd. He said commemorations had renewed interest in our family histories and he spoke about his what his own grandfathers did during the war.

"One of them fought at Gallipoli and then went on to serve on the Western Front. The other also served on the Western Front. Both were wounded, repatriated and medically- discharged before the end of the war.

"New Zealanders may have their origins in very different cultures, speak different languages, and worship in different ways.

"What we all share in our histories is a tragic legacy of armed conflict and war.

David Searle, of Dunedin, joins the crowd waiting for the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the National War Memorial in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
David Searle, of Dunedin, joins the crowd waiting for the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the National War Memorial in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"Surely we wish it were otherwise. Surely, our hope is that there will be a time when war and conflict are consigned to history.

"And while this may seem a lofty aspiration, surely it is incumbent on us to pursue it."

He said people were still need to serve their country in our Defence Force.

The Prime Minister also attended the service and released a message and video to pay his respects.

"On this day 100 years ago, the first ANZAC Day services were held in New Zealand to mark the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

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"Every year since, we pause to pay our respects to those service men and women who fought and lost their lives in World War One and Two as well as in other conflicts around the world since.

"We remember their incredible courage and bravery as well as their unity, which helped to forge the ANZAC bond and reputation that endures to this day. "We wouldn't be the country we are today without their sacrifice."

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Auckland

At the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Turkish exchange student Yigit Can Kaya delivered the Anzac dedication and said the importance of the message hit home as he spoke to the hushed crowd.

Mr Can Kaya, 18, who is from Istanbul and has just arrived in the country for a two week-long exchange at Auckland's Rangitoto College, only discovered yesterday he would be addressing the large gathering.

A guard stands on the cenotaph at the Auckland domain for the first dawn service of the morning. Photo / Nick Reed
A guard stands on the cenotaph at the Auckland domain for the first dawn service of the morning. Photo / Nick Reed

But as he stood on the outdoor podium facing the memorial cenotaph he said he cast his mind to those young men who had lost their lives in war from his school.

"Taking part and the certainly made me think about the students from our school who fought and died and it made me think it could have been me."

Mr Can Kaya said he was honoured to be selected for the role alongside fellow college student Isabel Corbett.

"I will never forget this day.

"I will watch this footage 10 years from now and look back."

Crosses at the Auckland Domain for Anzac Day. Photo / Nick Reed
Crosses at the Auckland Domain for Anzac Day. Photo / Nick Reed

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said it was a special, emotional day.

He said the importance if Anzac has not diminished but continues to strengthen as evidenced today.

At the Waikumete Cemetery in West Auckland, the roll of honour for the Western Districts was read and the sound of the cannon could be heard roaring around the western suburbs following anthems.

Dean Wiltshire's family has a long association with the armed services.

Former and present service men and women leave Auckland domain after the first dawn service. Photo / Nick Reed
Former and present service men and women leave Auckland domain after the first dawn service. Photo / Nick Reed

"It's a day of remembering our families, mine dates back to the Boer War," he said

"My grandfather served in the army during World War II."

Mr Wiltshire served in the Airforce, as did his wife Rettie who accompanied him at the dawn service.

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Harry Harris was wearing the medals of his family members, and said he was proud to represent them.

"It's a day to honour my father and my uncles who went away and it's a commemoration of all the Anzacs that never came home."

Anzac service at the Auckland Domain. Photo / Daniel Hines
Anzac service at the Auckland Domain. Photo / Daniel Hines

Hamilton

In Hamilton, thousands turned out at Memorial Park. Rain and drizzle held off.

The crowd, which spanned all ages, spilled out onto the road while a big screen was erected for those who couldn't get close enough to the action.

Alex Falconer, 91, of Taupo, served in the Air Arm fleet during the end of WWII. He usually attends services in Taupo but his family brought up him to the Hamilton service for a change.

Mr Falconer's Hamilton-based daughter Fleur Fink, her husband Andrew Fink and their two daughters Alexis, 8, and Ashlyn, 5, were there supporting him along with Mrs Fink's other siblings.

The family make it to every dawn service and are now trying to make the most of the time they have with their father and grandfather.

Mary Mitchell and friend Elaine Burns attend the Hamilton dawn parade each year together with members of their family. Photo / Belinda Feek
Mary Mitchell and friend Elaine Burns attend the Hamilton dawn parade each year together with members of their family. Photo / Belinda Feek

Hamilton friends Mary Mitchell and Elaine Burns are also regulars at the dawn service.

Mrs Mitchell said her father - who has since died - was a returned serviceman from WWII.

"He mostly fought in Egypt and Italy and he did most of his training in Fiji. He was born in the Wairarapa but he moved up to Raglan after the war and worked on the farm up here and met my mum.

"It's a very poignant day for me today, I always love to come," Mrs Mitchell says.

Don and Marian Macdonald attended this morning's Dawn Service in Hamilton. Photo / Belinda Feek
Don and Marian Macdonald attended this morning's Dawn Service in Hamilton. Photo / Belinda Feek

Hamilton's Don Macdonald, and wife Marian, try and make the dawn service.

Mr Macdonald served in the army for five years from 1970 to 1975, while Mrs Macdonald's father and grandfather served in the second and first world wars respectively.

"It's a wonderful thing and if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be where we were today," Mrs Macdonald says.

Rotorua

In Rotorua, large crowds gathered at the Muruika War Cemetery at Ohinemutu, some wrapped in blankets. Among them were many children and teenagers.

Rotorua local Angela Swann-Cronin became the first Maori woman to give an Anzac address. She spoke of her great-great grandfather who was killed in the Battle of Somb 1916.

Tauranga

Several turned up for a dawn service at Tauranga's Returned Services' Association cenotaph.

And in Mount Maunganui, hundreds of people gathered at the Cenotaph on Marine Parade to pay their respects, including two husky dogs wearing poppies.

Mount Manuganui Anzac dawn Service. Photo / George Novak
Mount Manuganui Anzac dawn Service. Photo / George Novak

Large crowds spilled onto the streets. A parade of about 200 former servicemen and associates marched from Mauao to the Cenotaph to honour and commemorate our fallen soldiers.

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Coromandel

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.

"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".

Katikati

Hundreds in Katikati were greeted to a brisk, clear morning today to mark Anzac Day.

Katikati RSA President Peter MacKay Due welcomed a large crowd of more than 500 to the commemoration. He told the crowd there were two new pieces at the Square - a Memorial Stone and a mural of a soldier - to "remind us of our fallen."

Mr MacKay also acknowledged a contingent from the naval vessel HMNZS Hawea, which is in Tauranga as part of the Royal New Zealand Navy's 75th Anniversary and Anzac Day commemorations.Hundreds in Katikati were greeted to a brisk, clear morning today to mark Anzac Day - a day when thousands of young men, far from their homes, stormed the beaches on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Christchurch

In Christchurch, Mayor Lianne Dalziel welcomed the large crowd at the Cramner Square dawn service and urged them to remember those who gathered a century ago and to share in their sense of loss.

More than 1600 white crosses had been placed in the square, representing some of the number of Cantabrians killed in the war a century ago. There will be hundreds more at next year's service, in memory of those killed on the Western Front in 1916, especially at the infamous Battle of the Somme, until the final tally is reached.

Dawn Service at Christchurch's Cranmer Square. Photo / Kurt Bayer
Dawn Service at Christchurch's Cranmer Square. Photo / Kurt Bayer

The New Zealand Army Band performed Dave Dobbyn's Welcome Home which was sung at Chunuk Bair at last year's centenary commemorations at Gallipoli.

Jimmy Murchison, 55, laid a poppy after the service in memory of his grandfather who fought in the First World War.

"I came today to pay my respects to him, and the others, in my small way," he said.

"It's very uplifting to see so many others doing the same."

Later services will continue this morning throughout the country.

Whangarei

More than 1000 students, youth and scout groups were among an estimated 7000 that gathered for the Anzac Day dawn service in Whangarei, which was performed for the second time on a pleasant morning at the new cenotaph at Laurie Hall Park today.

Chief guest was Commodore Dave Gibbs, deputy chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai was the first to lay a wreath at the cenotaph followed by Whangarei RSA president Chris Harold and the RSA Trust chairman Archie Dixon.

Mr Harold said those ex-servicemen buried at sea and at cemeteries throughout the world were held in high esteem and they must always be honoured.

He said people must realise that those who fought at Gallipoli in April 1915 were not only Kiwis and Australian fighters but were also from Britain, France and Turkey.

"If you ever get a chance to visit Gallipoli, do go there. What they faced during the war will bring you to tears," he said.

Whanganui

On an unusually mild autumn day those who marched to the War Memorial Centre forecourt in Whanganui were encircled by hundreds of others flanking the forecourt in front of the hall and the museum. Still others found vantage points along on Queens Park above the memorial steps.

Mayor Annette Main and Mr Morris led the wreath-laying ceremony, followed by Returned and Services personnel, defence forces, schools and rest homes.

Whanganui City College student Finn Williams gave the address, his speech focusing on the enormity of the casualties from the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

"But this day is not about bloodshed. It's about the people who bravely fought for what they believed in," he said.

He said the casualties suffered on both sides of the conflict were horrendous.

"This is a day when we, as a country, feel great pride in what we achieved in those nine months, rather than hang our heads in remorse of the sacrifice made to achieve them."

Reverend Rosemary Anderson said the reality of combat is that the participants were constantly facing death.

"Those who have never experienced combat can never fully comprehend the toll it takes and that's why it falls to us to remember their sacrifices," Mrs Anderson said.

"We stand here in honour of them, as we do every year, to reflect and remember that they gave their tomorrows so that we can have our todays."

And with the singing of "God Save the Queen", "Advance Australia Fair" and "God Defend New Zealand", the parade was dismissed.

Some headed into the War Memorial Centre for the traditional rum and coffee.

Waihi

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

Guest speaker Captain (Rtd) Rex Williams 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 career as an Infantry non-commissioned soldier and completed 32 years' service retiring in 1985 in the rank of Captain.

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

One of his great uncles, 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, retraining and going back into the battle again.

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

"Whoever you were in the war you keep your head down. I have been keeping my head down ever since."

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

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

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

Dunedin

More than 10,000 huddled together on a brisk Dunedin morning at Queens Gardens.

As the service concluded and the crowd dispersed, it was 6-year-old Erika Reilly, wearing her great-great grandfather's World War 2 medals, who summed the morning up best.

''It was awesome,'' she said.

Led by a City of Dunedin Pipe Band lone piper and a 2/4 RNZIR Maori warrior, the colours were laid at the cenotaph and a moving service followed as the crowd watched on, their minds wandering often to the fate of their ancestors.

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) officiating Chaplin Rev Dr Tony Martin led the service.

''The horror of war impacts everybody and no-one hates war more than those that have served,'' he said.

''For your tomorrows we give our today.''

Columba College head girl Alice Jones and John McGlashan College head boy Lochie Chittock gave well-spoken readings before guest speaker NZDF director of defence strategic relationships Commodore John Campbell, of Auckland, spoke on the importance of today.

Dunedin RSA president Major (retired) Lox Kellas addressed the crowd, saying it was important to reflect on those who did not return from war.

Hawke's Bay

At the Dawn Service in Napier, staged at the Sound Shell, the colonnade area was packed as were nearby footpaths and a large stretch of the closed-off northern end of Marine Parade.

One of the guest speakers at the service, Royal New Zealand Navy Commodore David Proctor, paused briefly before his address and looked toward the sea.

"We see the awesome sunrises of the Bay - and we remember the Gallipoli sunrise."

He spoke of the mateship and comradeship of the services, and how they were strongly embraced today by families and communities - that was evident looking out across the faces in the crowd, which some estimated to be about 6000 strong.

All ages were represented.

Toddlers, some in push-chairs, children, teenagers, young and old - and the poppies were clearly evident.

New Zealand Army Colonel Ian MacDonald told of how while at Gallipoli for last year's centennial commemorations he saw for himself the harshness of the conditions - "where they lived, fought and died".

He also spoke of the remarkable bond which war had woven between the people of New Zealand and the people of Turkey.

As Colonel MacDonald spoke the glow on the horizon drew out the silhouette of the waka which sailed in close to shore and at the conclusion of the services carried out a traditional salute - opening and closing the sails and blowing of the pukaea/conch.

Mark Gregg, visiting from Australia, described the service and the glowing sunrise over the sea as "something I will never forget - it was just lump in the throat stuff, it really was".

There were also big early morning crowds for the service at the Hastings Cenotaph and the Lone Pine Memorial in Taradale.

- NZ Herald

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