Under an indigo dawn sky, Kelly Smith from the New Zealand Navy gave a chilling reminder of the human sacrifice of war at Katikati's Anzac Day Dawn Service in front of a 300-strong crowd at Memorial Square on Sunday.
The Lieutenant Commander said April 25 saw the first significant engagement of New Zealand troops in the First World War when they landed at Gallipoli.
By the end of that fateful day, more than 600 New Zealanders had been killed or wounded - more than in the three years of the South African Boer War.
"The First World War went on to claim 18,000 New Zealand lives.
"Along with nearly 50,000 wounded, this was an enormous price for a country of one million."
Smith said every town and city has a memorial in honour of those who went to war and those who never came home. As very few of the soldiers, sailors and airmen who died overseas were returned to New Zealand, the memorials were an important place for their families and friends to lay wreaths and contemplate their loss.
"This day 100 years ago, saw the official opening of Katikati's memorial gates at the entrance to the Uretara Domain. Although they bear the date 1920, they were formally unveiled on Anzac Day in 1921.
"The names of the 10 local men who died on active service are listed on one pillar and on the opposite pillar has the dedication: These gates were erected by the residents of Katikati in grateful recognition of the splendid service rendered in the Great War by the boys of this district, who answered the call, of King and country."
That day in 1921, in the opening address by Kenneth Morton, he said, "the district had sent away to the war every available man, several of whom had lost their lives. The boys who had fallen and in fact all who went away, were boys that every country could be proud of."
Smith said there can be no doubt that our nation's role in these extraordinary events has had a tremendous impact on New Zealand history and society.
For a number of years since the first Anzac Day, NZ has been involved in wars, conflicts and other military operations around the world. Only recently the remaining NZDF personnel in Afghanistan have returned home after 20 years of deployment there, she said.
"Currently at any one time, around 1200 military personnel are playing a key part in New Zealand's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Work in managed isolation and quarantine facilities has been ongoing for the NZDF since March last year and will continue, which not only puts great strain on the force's resources and the personnel involved but on their families."
All these operations have demonstrated the importance of the unique range of skills and capabilities the Defence Force brings to the service of New Zealand.
"Today we acknowledge that this modern service, just as it was in the past, is never without costs to our men and women of the armed forces and to their families."
Katikati RSA president Glenn Burt said throughout all of New Zealand and Australia we are gathered to commemorate and remember those men and women who have given their all, and those that are still giving, in the many conflicts that have occurred throughout the world.
"It was at Gallipoli that our two nations formed the permanent and long-lasting Anzac bond that continues to this day. That Anzac spirit prevailed just as strongly on recent deployments in Timor Leste and Iraq, as they did in Gallipoli.
"Remembering those who fought and gave their lives to secure our countries future is pivotal in understanding who we are as a people and binds us together as we face the future."
Prayers were said by RSA Padre Mike Cotton who read his friend Chris Skinner's tribute song titled, Sons of Gallipoli, from one of his music albums.
Katikati College head students Dandre du Plessis and Charlotte Schnackenberg recited a poem, Child of War written by student Isla Willacy who was unable to attend as she was reciting her poem at the Auckland Memorial service. And renowned war poet Mike Subritzky read a poem titled Pasture's Green.
After the wreaths were laid a large flock of seagulls flew overhead as if providing an unofficial flyover.
On parade, Terri McClintock spent 26 years in military service with the NZ Army working in transport and logistics. She said the dawn service was lovely.
After Standing at Dawn last year due to Covid, she said it was "great to be back to normality".