The president of Whangārei's RSA hopes the creative tributes which came out of the cancellation of Anzac Day events will continue in years to come.

Driveway Anzac Day services, front gates decorated with poppies, and creative window displays were some of the ways Northlanders paid tribute to New Zealand's fallen soldiers in lieu of dawn ceremonies and other events.

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Kevin Peachey, president of Whangārei RSA, said he hoped the creative Anzac Day tributes would continue, even when Anzac Day events return.

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"I think it might have set a bit of a precedent actually. I think a lot of people are going to get more involved and do these decorative things outside their gates. Just the way everyone got behind it, kids and everything, doing their own thing.

"You see the amount of kids that got involved doing their thing and it means they're taking it on board what Anzac Day is about, so I think it's a good thing."

When residents of Yorke Rd in Haruru Falls heard official Anzac Day events would be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they decided to hold their own ceremony.

More than 50 residents of the Bay of Islands street — including young families, uniformed firefighters, pensioners, a Vietnam veteran and a cat — got up before daybreak on Saturday to honour the nation's service men and women at an improvised street corner memorial of tea lights, poppies and crosses.

In another sign of these strange times, all stood alone or in their family bubbles, spaced 2m apart in the darkened street.

Kayla Taituha lays a wreath during the Yorke Rd ceremony with daughter Maia Taituha-Harrison. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kayla Taituha lays a wreath during the Yorke Rd ceremony with daughter Maia Taituha-Harrison. Photo / Peter de Graaf

With no bagpiper or bugler in the neighbourhood they made do with recordings on a portable sound system but the lowering and raising of the flag, and the sentiment, were real.

The residents recited karakia, read poems in English and te reo Māori, and laid wreaths as dawn turned the sky a vivid pink.

The Foley family pay their respects at the Yorke Rd Anzac Day ceremony in Haruru Falls, from left, Manaia, 7, Laura, Atawhai, 3, Tim and Kimiora, 2. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The Foley family pay their respects at the Yorke Rd Anzac Day ceremony in Haruru Falls, from left, Manaia, 7, Laura, Atawhai, 3, Tim and Kimiora, 2. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The event organiser, Māori business leader Karleen Everitt, used her speech to link battles of the past with New Zealanders' current battle against an invisible enemy.

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"Our enemy today does not hold a gun or a bayonet, instead it is a virus. As we stand 2m apart we stand together as one."

She paid tribute not just to the service men and women of past conflicts, but also to the emergency service personnel and essential workers — from the Prime Minister to the cleaners and supermarket staff — serving on today's front line.

Everitt urged her neighbours to remain resolute and to keep treating each other with kindness.

Cheryl Taylor and Vietnam veteran Bruce Gordon at the Yorke Rd Anzac Day ceremony in Haruru Falls. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Cheryl Taylor and Vietnam veteran Bruce Gordon at the Yorke Rd Anzac Day ceremony in Haruru Falls. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Bruce Gordon, who served with the 2RAR/Victor 5 Anzac Battalion in Vietnam in 1970-71, said he got even more out of Saturday's Yorke Rd event than he did from the big services in town.

"This was more personal. We all know each other."

The dawn service was another step in the residents' journey of getting to know each other, ironically brought about by a virus which means they are forced to stay apart.

Dawn breaks over the Yorke Rd Anzac Day ceremony in Haruru Falls. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Dawn breaks over the Yorke Rd Anzac Day ceremony in Haruru Falls. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Everitt said before Covid-19 neighbours would give each other a nod or maybe a wave as they drove by but they didn't really know each other.

Now they were stronger as a community and more connected, she said.

These days Yorke Rd doesn't only get together for solemn occasions.

Every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am the residents come to the end of their driveways while Everitt gets out her sound system and cranks up the volume.

And then, for two songs, they dance.

Bedlington St resident Brent Stephen, a former NZ Navy serviceman, and member of the Whangārei District Brass band, played the Last Post and the Rouse on his baritone. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Bedlington St resident Brent Stephen, a former NZ Navy serviceman, and member of the Whangārei District Brass band, played the Last Post and the Rouse on his baritone. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Meanwhile, in Bedlington St, Whangārei, most of the residents were standing proudly, joined by some residents from nearby Percy St.

Bedlington St resident Brent Stephen, a former NZ Navy serviceman and member of the Whangārei District Brass band, played the Last Post and the Rouse on his baritone in the street.

He said the event was a wonderful way for his street and the entire country to mark Anzac Day.

''It started (in the street) with just a couple of people going to stand at dawn then it just took off and today it was really something very special,'' Stephen said.

''It's great to be a Kiwi and this shows just how together we are. We are facing a real threat (with Covid-19) and it has brought us together.''

Angus Trail played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes at the Whangārei Cenotaph on Anzac Day. Photo / Supplied
Angus Trail played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes at the Whangārei Cenotaph on Anzac Day. Photo / Supplied

Whangārei Boys' High School prefect Angus Trail played Amazing Grace at the Whangārei Cenotaph - which is within 2km of where he lives - at 11am on Anzac Day.

He joined pipers across New Zealand who had been invited by the Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands' Association to play the song at that time.

"I feel it's important that we should pay our respects for the people who fought for us during World War II and World War I, and especially now during Covid-19. I'm also named after one of my great uncles who fought in World War I," he said.

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St John ambulances stand at dawn on Anzac Day. Photo / Supplied
St John ambulances stand at dawn on Anzac Day. Photo / Supplied
Hunter Chalmers plays the last post at dawn from Rangitane Wharf in Kerikeri. Photo / Supplied
Hunter Chalmers plays the last post at dawn from Rangitane Wharf in Kerikeri. Photo / Supplied
Ian Salter, an ex-serviceman and RSA member, stands on the balcony of his home in Whangārei. Photo / Supplied
Ian Salter, an ex-serviceman and RSA member, stands on the balcony of his home in Whangārei. Photo / Supplied
Taine Middleton, representing his school and holding a picture of his great grandfather, Horrie Ogle, a veteran who passed away last year. Photo / Supplied
Taine Middleton, representing his school and holding a picture of his great grandfather, Horrie Ogle, a veteran who passed away last year. Photo / Supplied