He tao huata e taea te karo,
He tao na Aitua, e kore.”
“The thrust of a spear shaft may be parried, That of Death never”
Ata atamarie e koutou I te atatu.
I acknowledge The Honourable Grant Robertson, Deputy Prime Minister
Her Excellency Hardiner Sidhu, High Commissioner for Australia
Her Excellency Omur Unsay, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey
Nicola Willis MP, Representing the Opposition
His Worship Andy Foster, Mayor of Wellington
Air Marshal Kevin Short, Chief of Defence Force
Andrew Bridgeman, Secretary of Defence
Bernadette Cavanagh, Chief Executive, Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Fiona Cassidy, Acting Chair of the National War Memorial Advisory Council
BJ Clark, President of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association
Theo Kuper, President, Wellington Returned and Services Association; and
Willie Apiata, VC
Greetings to all on this sacred day, as we gather together for our traditional Anzac Day Dawn Service. I especially acknowledge our veterans – those who are here with us today, and those here in spirit – wherever you may be across the country.
I am proud to have as part of my title, Commander-in-Chief. Today, we also acknowledge members of the New Zealand Defence Force who are deployed overseas, often working in dangerous and complex situations requiring the utmost sensitivity, skill, and care.
Every New Zealander who has served our country in war or conflict deserves our greatest respect – this day and every day. Let us honour our brave service personnel, and all who have lost their lives in service to New Zealand.
Every year, on Anzac Day, we think back to the landing of New Zealand troops at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
For more than a century, that brave but perilous advance into an unknown and hostile landscape has remained a powerful symbol of the horror and cost to us as a nation. This cost is measured most particularly in the lives altered forever by the experience of the destructive powers of war, as evidenced by current conflicts.
The effects of the First World War and subsequent conflicts have been felt across generations. The loss of loved ones, friends, or colleagues; the struggles of those changed and scarred by their experiences; the lasting effects on work and the economy; the contributions of refugee communities – in so many ways, war has impacted on the lives of generations of New Zealanders.
When New Zealand marked Anzac Day for the first time, on 25 April 1916, it was hoped the commemoration would be the first of many. Over a century later, we can see those hopes have been realised.
Those early Anzac Days during the First World War were an opportunity to extoll the virtues of national unity, imperial loyalty, and volunteering. After the War, the focus turned more to commemoration and the expression of deep sorrow.
Over the decades, the thoughts expressed on Anzac Day have been a touchstone of how we see ourselves as a nation – including ideals of selflessness during the Great Depression, the questions posed by protest movements of the 1960s, and the resurgence of interest in our military past in recent decades.
Anzac Day in 2022 finds us weary from the stress of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and witness to disturbing new discord across the world.
We feel deeply for those suffering in current conflicts. For them, the simple joys of normal life – home and family, work and friends – have been replaced by the daily struggle to keep themselves and loved ones safe. Their new reality is one of trauma, grief, and displacement.
While there is much that we, as individuals, are powerless to change, as the light of a new day spreads over Pukeahu and Aotearoa, we can resolve to continue to be there for each other, and for all who are affected by war and conflict – past and present.
On Anzac Day, shared commemoration brings us together in peace and unity – and we experience the strength and solace of that connection.
We remember the nations with whom we have shared experience in war, whether as friend or foe.
The memorials here in Pukeahu stand testament to our shared military histories and lasting friendships – and they remind us that the greatest weapons against hatred and division will always be decency, compassion, and understanding.
Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou – we will remember them.