Armistice Day at Awahou Marae was an intimate affair.
Like thousands around the country our small group sat outside in the sunshine and listened to a service commemorating the end of WW1.
The message was a simple one. Peace requires vigilant leadership. Leadership that is a force for good. Where the welfare of others is put above self.
I particularly enjoyed listening to the personal service stories from the veterans present who had served in various regional wars over the years. They went away as young men, returned still young but changed forever.
Much has been written about the toll this war had on the countries involved. The devastation and impacts on families.
Our country paid a high price. We had 98,950 serving in New Zealand units overseas. Made up of 80 per cent volunteers and 20 per cent conscripts.
The Māori units had 2227 volunteers with 461 from the Pacific Islands. Our 550 trained nurses served in the NZ Expeditionary Forces, 12 dying overseas.
We had an active Home Guard of 7036. With the total number of New Zealand deaths recorded at 18,058.
Peace only lasted 20 years after the end of WW1. From 1939 – 1945 the world was engulfed in war again. Millions lost their lives in that war too. It seems we never learn or are just unable, or unwilling, to get along with our neighbours.
New wars and civil unrests seem to be continually flaring up all around the world. The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) says the world as a whole has been getting incrementally less peaceful over the past 20 years. I think wars are tragic and futile but history shows we can't live without them.
But today's wars are different. I listened to an interview with our Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Kevin Short, talking about new technology armies deploy today. This has changed how we kill and are killed. You don't have to see the enemy.
Pushing buttons from afar will do that. Modern wars are caught on camera in real time. The world can watch progress and the ultimate conclusion from an armchair in the lounge.
I don't want to see young men and women from any country fighting wars in the future. Even peace keeping tours of duty are not without danger.
But New Zealand will always want to hold up its end with continued support for past allies. Yet shouldn't "lest we forget" actually mean something.
That we don't have to continue to repeat history. We don't have to join in and play someone else's war games with them. Easier said than done especially when you're told yours, or the free world's, freedom is at stake.
Your way of life under threat. At present we have the leader of the free world turning on immigrants, making them out to be the enemy by invading the United States. Divisive politics can lead to war. So can the entrenched internal conflicts we see in the Middle East and North Korea.
Major economic and geopolitical shocks over the past decade, such as the global financial crisis and the Arab Spring, have left countries more at risk of falling into conflict with peace in our time slowly but steadily decreasing.
Armistice at Awahou had a message of hope. Hope that with leadership that demonstrates integrity and engenders confidence and trust, we might see a reversal of the trend in world conflicts.