Hundreds of veterans, service people and members of the public remembered those from the Rotorua district who died during World War I with a special march past this morning.

Stopping for a moment next to the cenotaph in the Government Gardens the parade saluted the more than 120 crosses set up in the Rotorua District Field of Remembrance before making their way into the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre for the annual Civic Service.

The service was led by Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, whose husband John read the Governor General's Anzac address before prayers and a Bible reading by Reverend Tom Poata.

Local MPs, military personnel and RSA representatives also joined the official party on stage in the Civic Theatre, which was filled to capacity.


For the hundreds of people who did not find a seat inside big screens were set up in the theatre's atrium.

This year's keynote address was given by Royal Air Force WWII radar technician John Bond, who also sang an unaccompanied ballad after his speech.

"The landings at Anzac Cove in World War I were something I remember from a long way back and I am able to go a long way back as within a matter of days I shall be 100," to which he received rapturous applause.

Mr Bond spoke of the terrible planning and hasty execution of the Gallipoli landings and the shocking loss of life suffered by all those - New Zealanders, Australians, Indians, French and British troops - who landed there.

"It's unlikely I shall be able to celebrate the lives of our Anzac heroes for many more years, but I'm sure they will not be forgotten in the foreseeable future by my family.

"With increased interest being shown by school children and younger adults, our Anzacs, with Simpson and his donkey, will be remembered for many years to come."

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Mr Bond was followed on stage by speakers Annaliese Heuvel and Tamaho Stiles, head girl and head boy from Rotorua Girls' and Rotorua Boys' high schools.

The pair spoke about how the spirit of the Anzacs effects everyone in the community, young and old.

The service ended after the laying of wreaths and the singing of the national anthem.