Kiwi’s flock to NZ Anzac Day services

The words of New Zealand’s Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae have been observed by thousands around the country as he addressed a Anzac Day dawn service at Wellington’s Pukeahu National Park.


“It is a sacred ritual for us to meet at dawn on this day,” Sir Jerry, a former soldier, said.

“As the first shafts of light appear in the sky, let us renew our vow to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who came home changed by their experiences.

Sir Jerry said the commemorations of the centenary of the first Anzac service had cast a spotlight on events that changed our nation forever.

Numbers were down on last year when the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings drew record crowds to services around the country.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Australian High Commissioner Peter Woolcott and the Turkish ambassador Damla Yesim Say were among guests at the commemoration.

Air Force chaplain Anthony Hawes opened the service and welcomed the support that it still receives from the New Zealand public.

“A hundred years ago, they called for a national day of mourning and it was answered. Here we are still gathering 100 years later.”

In Auckland, the weekend’s rain gave way to a crisp Autumn morning as thousands gathered at the War Memorial Museum where 1686 crosses stood in the grass nearby marking Auckland’s casualties in World War I.

Among the many young families attending was Jeremy who brought his six-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.

Last year was the first time he attended since he was a child, prompted by the centenary, but the family had now taken it up again.

“We hope it’s something we can keep doing for a while at least,” he said.

At the National Service of Commemoration in Wellington later, Sir Jerry, who was overseeing his last Anzac Day as governor-general, encouraged New Zealanders to look into their ancestors’ experiences at World War I.

“So that we never forget the price they paid for the freedoms we enjoy today,” he said.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee is attending services on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

This year marks 101 years since Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed at Gallipoli on April 25 in 1915.

Some 8700 Australians died during the eight-month First World War campaign alongside more than 2700 New Zealanders. It’s estimated up to 87,000 Turks lost their lives.