"Go forth into the world with peace."
Those were the words of Reverend Marie Gilpin, of the Anglican Parish of Mount Maunganui, in the closing prayer to commemorate Armistice Day held at the Pāpāmoa cenotaph this morning.
Her prayer also spoke of the importance of remembering all those who had died in times of war.
"Soldiers ... innocent people buried beneath the rubble from bomb attacks ... we remember especially all the victims of the two World Wars, including those close to us.
"We pray for those with terrible injuries, both physical and psychological, and those whose loved ones never returned.
"We pray for a world where war is still a grim reality."
About 100 people attended the commemoration which was the first joint service of the Tauranga and Mount Maunganui Returned and Services Associations.
Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell, Labour list MP Jan Tinetti, and representatives of the Australian Defence Force and the French embassy in Wellington attended the service.
In his welcoming speech, Powell, who is an honorary Colonel in the New Zealand Army, highlighted the high percentage of New Zealand's population of young people who were sent overseas in World War I.
"The Great War ... was one of the most devastating events in human history," he said.
RSAs join forces to commemorate Armistice Day
Rotorua's Armistice Day service in the Government Gardens
RSA to commemorate Armistice Day at cenotaph
"New Zealand, with a population of only 1.1 million at that time, sent 100,000 men and women, of which 16,700 died ... a higher per capita casualty rate than any other country involved in the war."
Powell served in the Army from 1983 to 2011 and was appointed Colonel Commandant of 3/6 Battalion in 2015.
Mount Maunganui College student Saffron O'Donnell led the singing of the national anthem, as well as the national anthems of Australia and France, in recognition of the Australian and French representatives.
Major (Rtd) Greg Moyle, who is the chairman of the New Zealand War Memorial Trust in Le Quesnoy and had been invited to speak at the service, applauded O'Donnell's efforts at singing not only in English but te reo and French as well.
"Wasn't that fantastic?" he said.
"Congratulations, that was just an amazing feat."
Moyle then spoke about Le Quesnoy, a town in northeastern France where New Zealand soldiers took part in their final battle of World War I, and the plans to open a museum there.
The New Zealand War Memorial Trust Le Quesnoy plans to renovate the former mayoral residence of the town and turn it into a museum commemorating those New Zealanders who died in both World Wars.
"14,400 New Zealand troops, in three brigades ... found themselves outside the ancient walls of the town of Le Quesnoy," he said.
"The town had been occupied by the Germans since 1914 ... the New Zealanders had a choice - they could do what had been done so often across France, destroy the town, neutralise the enemy and move on.
"But a decision was made on that day not to destroy the town, but to liberate the town, without the loss of any civilian lives."
The museum will eventually recognise New Zealanders killed in all wars worldwide, he said.
"But for the moment, the focus is on World War I," Moyle said.
"It is our hope that, like Gallipoli, Le Quesnoy will become a place of pilgrimage for all Kiwis on Anzac and Remembrance Days."
He then pointed out Tauranga's links to Le Quesnoy, through soldiers who fought there.
After Moyle spoke, representatives from the community came forward to the cenotaph to lay wreaths.
Moyle had to pause his speech briefly as a plane flew low over the cenotaph as part of the commemorations.
Bugler Peter Cranston played the Last Post, before Papamoa College student Ella Trillo said the Ode in te reo, and Mount Maunganui RSA president Bill Newell recited it in English.