Australian Pam Chestnut had never attended an Anzac Day dawn parade in New Zealand since crossing the ditch four decades ago and, when she did, she was given the responsibility of being the flagbearer for her country of birth.

The bar manager at Whangarei RSA was among hundreds of former servicemen and women, Scouts and students who marched from Rust Ave to the Laurie Hall Park cenotaph on Saturday to say "we will remember".

Born in Dalby, Queensland, she married an Englishman and the couple got as far as New Zealand while doing their big OE in 1975 and, Ms Chestnut said, "that was it".

She has spent 14 years in Whangarei, 11 years at the RSA's Rust Ave office and has been the bar manager for the past five years.


Her father Leslie Charles Thiemann was in the Australian 25th battalion who fought in Papua New Guinea during World War II.

Australian Max Pullen had carried his country's flag for 10 years during the dawn service in Whangarei and, when he could not, he asked Ms Chestnut to replace him.

"I was overwhelmed and was ready for it as long as I did not tread on anyone else's toes but no one came forward. But I didn't see it coming," she recalled.

"I was absolutely nervous at first because having never been to a dawn ceremony here to being suddenly thrust into a role like this for a huge country like Australia is an honour."

She did five practices at the cenotaph and realised flagbearing was difficult as she had to hold the flag level with the other flags.

"I was asking everybody what to do, how long it (dawn service) takes but having a (war) veteran on my left was good because he's done it all.

"The crowd was overwhelming ... there were people everywhere. During practice, people used to gather at the cenotaph and I thought that was a lot of people, but at the dawn service the crowd was huge," she said.

Ms Chestnut cried during the service and said a woman behind her "sobbed her heart out".


She is keen to continue being the flagbearer for Australia in the future.