The throngs of young faces at Anzac Day services across Hawke's Bay said it all - this is a generation that refuses to forget those who died in war for them.

Thousands gathered at Havelock North cenotaph for the Anzac Day service. Video Warren Buckland.

The lack of a significant anniversary, a year after the 100th, couldn't keep them away.

The early start couldn't keep them away. Not even the opening of the heavens could keep them away, as thousands across the region turned out to honour and remember the fallen.

Napier RSA president John Purcell said that it was great to see the tradition flowing through the generations with more and more young people turning up each year.


With recent events of the Christchurch terror attacks still playing on people's minds he felt dawn service, and the services throughout the day, were a great show of unity from the people of Napier.

Jake Papuni, 6, and Mila Poppy Papuni, 9, wear their great- grandfather's medals at Taradale's civic service. Photo / Paul Taylor
Jake Papuni, 6, and Mila Poppy Papuni, 9, wear their great- grandfather's medals at Taradale's civic service. Photo / Paul Taylor

During his address to the crowd at dawn service he said:

"One-hundred years on we look back today and remember those who have gone and although we might find peace in the future but war and fighting may still carry on.

"But I hope either way 100 years from now my future generations will be here still remembering and never forgetting."

Commemorations carried on into the day with the Taradale civic service which was moved from the clock tower and in to St Columba's Presbyterian Church due to the weather.

The service's special guest Maaka Papuni spoke about his family's battle and suffering in the war where his family fought in WWI and WWII and the service his father gave in Vietnam.

The Porritt Primary School principal had the support of his father, wife and his to children Jake Papuni, 6, and Mila Poppy Papuni, 9, who wore their great-great grandfathers medals to the service.

"We make sure we make it every year and it's something very important to us as well as for our kids, they always want to attend and it's great for them to learn about their whanau who fought for our country," Papuni said.

Tessa Geldard, 11, from Taradale Intermediate read entires from her great-grandfather's diary. Photo / Paul Taylor
Tessa Geldard, 11, from Taradale Intermediate read entires from her great-grandfather's diary. Photo / Paul Taylor

Memorial Square saw Napier's last big Anzac Day service for 2019 as the clouds made way and the sun came out to share in the occasion.

Taradale Intermediate student Tessa Geldard, 11, read some of the entries into her great-grandfather's diary from when he was fighting during WWII, reading passages of the travesties and horrors he saw while also looking on some of the lighter moments through the darkness.

Napier MP and Police Minister Stuart Nash was also one of the many special guests.

"Not a year has gone by since WWI that there have not been armies fighting or bullets fired in anger somewhere in the world and I wonder why peace is so hard and war so easy," Nash said.

"My hope is that we will one day learn from history and find peace but until then I will like to thank the men and women who have served to protect us and those who continue to protect us."

In Hastings, hundreds gathered for the Dawn Service, witnessing a parade along Russell St to the Cenotaph led by cavalry in WWI uniform.

The Australian and New Zealand national anthems were sung and Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst spoke of the pain experienced by families and survivors "struggling to lead happy lives".

"This morning we gather to pay tribute to our men and women who served bravely for our country and who bravely courageously sacrificed their lives for our peace, our freedom," she said.

"Today the world continues to face unrest, conflict, racism, hatred and fear.

"More than ever we must remain united in love and acceptance, for only love and acceptance will bring love and acceptance to the world."

This year's guest speaker for the Anzac address was Ngati Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana, who said the human spirit had risen above "the dread and terror of the battlefields of the world".

"From horror has come hope, from death has come the dream of peace, from bloodbaths has come beauty, from the last post have come love songs - in prose and poetry and compositions."

His grandfather Paraire Henare Tomoana composed the song E Pari Ra "which depicts the cliff of Anzac Cove and the waves beating against it, with blood crimson red".

"He turned that into the sobbing of the heart of the mothers back in New Zealand and Australia crying for their sons.

"The blood of their sons, ebbing out with the tide back to the shores of New Zealand and Australia. And the tears of grief and sorrow and aroha of the mother, returning with the receding tide to the cliffs of Gallipoli."

Tomoana's song was sung as well as his most well-known composition, the love song Pokarekare Ana.

In Clive, people gathered at Kohupātiki Marae to commemorate the 28th (Māori) Battalion Company D.

They were joined by the Italian Ambassador, Fabrizio Marcelli, and an impressive floral display in the shape of Italy was set up, showing where New Zealand soldiers fought and died.

The Māori Battalion was the most decorated of all New Zealand battalions in World War II.