Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Address breaks new ground (+video)

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Former Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot Angela Swann-Cronin will be the first Maori woman to deliver the keynote address during this year's dawn service at Ohinemutu.

The 101st anniversary of the Gallipoli landings by Anzac forces will once again be commemorated in Rotorua with two traditional services in the city.

They are the dawn service at Muruika War Cemetery in Ohinemutu and the Civic Service, to be held this year in the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

Te Arawa Maori Returned Services League secretary Sam Smith, a Malaya and Vietnam veteran, said it was about time a woman had the honour of giving the keynote address at the dawn service.

Flight Lieutenant Angela Swann-Cronin RNZAF (retired) was the first Maori woman to become a pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and now flies regional routes for Air New Zealand.

Mrs Swann-Cronin flew Hercules C-130 cargo planes around the world, in Antarctica, the Pacific, East Timor and Afghanistan.

Her 13-year career in the air force included three years in Canada.

"We wanted to use someone different. Usually it's a high-ranking man, but they are getting a bit thin on the ground now," Mr Smith said.

"But we really wanted to involve women a lot more, they are also part of the services and don't get a lot of the attention they deserve," he said.

Malaya and Vietnam veterans Sam Smith (left) and Danny McCort say  there is something very special about the dawn service at Ohinemutu's Muruika War Cemetery. Photo / Stephen Parker
Malaya and Vietnam veterans Sam Smith (left) and Danny McCort say there is something very special about the dawn service at Ohinemutu's Muruika War Cemetery. Photo / Stephen Parker


His colleague and brother-in-arms Danny McCort, also a Malaya and Vietnam veteran, said he attended the dawn service every year.

"My ancestry comes back to Te Arawa and it's the atmosphere around the place that's very special. Because it's in this area it has a huge significance," he said.

All the names on the tombs - their families are still here. In lots of places there is only a Cenotaph as a memorial, at least there is something tangible here that ties the people to the memorial.
Danny McCort

This year's Civic Service, run by the Rotorua Lakes Council and Rotorua RSA, will start at 9.30am after a parade that starts at Memorial Drive at 9am.

The Civic Service will be led by Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick with guest speaker 99-year-old World War II veteran John Bond.

Mr Bond, a renowned opera singer, will also sing at the event.

On Thursday, the Rotorua District Field of Remembrance consecration ceremony will be held from 5pm at the Government Gardens Cenotaph.

More than 100 white crosses will be installed in front of the Cenotaph to remember those from the district who died during World War I.

A plaque for the Gallipoli Lone Pine, which was planted last year, will also be unveiled.

- Community groups wanting to lay a wreath during the Civic Service are asked to provide their organisation's name via email to: community.events@ rotorualc.nz

Rotorua's Anzac commemorations:

* Dawn parade: Muruika War Cemetery, Ohinemutu. Service from 6am

* Parade assembles outside Tamatekapua meeting house at 5.45am

* Guest speaker: Flight Lieutenant Angela Swann-Cronin RNZAF (retired)

* Civic Service: Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre. Service from 9.30am

* Parade assembles on Memorial Drive at 8.50am

* Guest speaker: Royal Air Force WWII radar technician John Bond

- Rotorua Daily Post

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