Warmed by autumn sunshine, a solemn 200-strong crowd gathered in united respect at the Hakaru RSA Anzac Day ceremony on April 25, thoughts poised in reflection – from the first trill of the bagpipes to the final note of the haunting ‘Last Post’ – on the lives, suffering and loss of those who gave their all in wartimes and conflicts.
Hakaru RSA patron, Neville Andrew, led the ceremony, which included wreath laying from representatives of the Royal NZ Navy and Airforce, 16th Field Regiment, Merchant Navy, Malaysian and Vietnam veterans, NZ Cadets, Mangawhai Volunteer Fire Brigade, Mangawhai and Kaiwaka Order of St John and Cadets, Mangawhai Beach School, Otamatea High School, Mangawhai Zonta, Kaipara District Council as well as Hakaru RSA.
In an emotional speech, special guest Royal NZ Navy chief of the LCT Craig Warner, acknowledged the crowd and spoke about the importance of memorials, which ‘are a powerful symbol of the sacred obligation New Zealanders had on those who gave their lives for our country’ as well as the grief and despair of war:
“The heavy casualties at Gallipoli came as a particular shock because New Zealand had no previous experience of the huge toll that artillery, machine guns and other weapons of industrial warfare could inflict. Each generation of New Zealanders has its own struggles and crosses to bear but those who fought in the First World War had more than their fair share of misfortune.
“A world war, an influenza pandemic, an economic depression of unparalleled scope and then an even more terrible global conflict. The First World War was widely seen as the war to end war, but as we all know, it was not, and our world is still ravaged, in the Ukraine and elsewhere, by war.
“Today let us all think about the continuing need to stand up to those who believe ‘might is right’ and who have no regard for human rights or international law. We should also consider what we can all do in in the ongoing struggle for a better, peaceful world.
“It is now more than a century since the end of the First World War and nearly 80 years since the end of the Second World War. The sacrifices made by New Zealanders in those conflicts and more recent wars, however, do not diminish with the passing of time.
“For thousands of years, human beings have recognised that there are two kinds of death; the first is physical, and the second when your name is spoken for the last time. We who are gathered here should do all we can to ensure that the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for New Zealand are not forgotten and do not go unspoken.
“Our service today is a powerful demonstration of New Zealanders' continued commitment to honouring what those men and women did for New Zealand. When you look at the names that have fallen on our war memorials and elsewhere, think about what these men and women and their comrades, who were lucky enough to survive, endured. Think about
the pain they suffered, the lives cut short, the dreams unfulfilled and the grief felt by those left behind.”
Warner concluded with words inscribed at Thames High School War Memorial where 27 old boys died in the First World War – ‘Remembering the dead, let the living be humble.’
1. For the 107th year, kiwis around the country gathered to remember the bravery and sacrifice of servicemen and women who dedicated their lives to their country in war.
2. Pipers lead the falling in of veterans, serving personnel and reps from various community groups including two schools who lined up to pay their respects.
3. Veteran Merv Lee served in the Korean War and has never missed an Anzac Day service.
4. Hakaru RSA women’s section vice president June Wilson (left) and president Ann Dowson lay a wreath.
5. Zonta Mangawhai members make the walk of honour to lay their wreath.
6. Mangawhai Beach School students in a moment of reverence.
7. Hakaru RSA patron Neville Andrew and special guest Royal NZ Navy, chief of the LCT Craig Warner.
8. A flyover in honour of the day thanks to the Royal NZ Navy and Airforce.
9. Falling out by flagbearers is a serious undertaking on the day by Mangawhai St John and Mangawhai Cadets.