As the Last Post sounded thousands of Northlanders stood still - some moving only to wipe away tears as they remembered New Zealand's fallen soldiers.

April 25, 1915, marked the day when Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed at Gallipoli in Turkey - the site of New Zealand's first major battle of World War I with the loss of over 2700 New Zealand soldiers.

In Whangārei about 6500 people gathered at the Cenotaph at Laurie Hall Park on a calm morning to remember those who died and to honour the returned and current servicemen and women.

Whangārei RSA president Chris Harold said although numbers were down on last year, it was well above crowd numbers when the Cenotaph was in Rose St, and he was impressed at the number of school students who had attended - despite it being the last week of school holidays.


"It has been exciting to see so many schools," he said.

The ceremony began with the parade falling in outside the Whangārei RSA on Rust Ave about 5.50am.

About 1000 people were led by the Whangārei Brass Band through town and to Laurie Hall Park where thousands were already gathered.

There was an increased police presence observed at the ceremony, but it was subtle.

Kevin Peachey, vice-president of the Whangārei RSA, was the MC of the service and began by welcoming everyone and reminding the crowd of the reason for gathering - to remember those who went to the field of conflict and did not return, and to commemorate the sacrifice they made "so that we may live in peace".

Harold followed Peachey and told the crowd how "ordinary people, just like you and me had to leave loved ones behind and go and fight for our country".

"The Anzacs indeed command and deserve the respect and remembrance of present and future generations of all New Zealanders and Australians regardless of race, colour or creed.

"On this day, as a number of Anzacs grow smaller, the Anzac spirit - which was passed onto us from the battlefield long ago - will live on because it is a reflection of the very heart of our nation."


Every year since 2009 the names of 30 war dead from the district have been read at each service. This year those names were read by Pompallier Catholic College deputy head prefects Isaac Wills and Frances Land.

Peachey said there are 654 names on the Cenotaph and it will take another 21 years to get through the entire roll.

"We will remember them," he told the crowd.

When it came time for the Last Post to be sounded there was stillness. The only other sounds that could be heard were birds chirping and sobbing by those who were moved by the ceremony which was one of many held around the region.