Anzac Day National Commemoration 2023
Rere ana nga roimata o Hine
Tērā te pae, o Te Riri.
Huihuia mai tātau katoa
Tēnei te pae, o Maumahara.
E nga iwi, kei aku rangatira
Wahine ma, tāne mā
Tēnā tātau katoa.
I wish to specifically acknowledge: Taranaki Whānui; The Right Honourable Chris Hipkins, Prime Minister; His Excellency Ahmad Salem Alwehaib, Ambassador of the State of Kuwait, and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; The Honourable Gerry Brownlee, representing the Opposition; Members of Parliament; Her Worship Tory Whanau, Mayor of Wellington; His Worship Frédéric Leturque, Mayor of Arras; Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies, Vice Chief of Defence Force; Sir Wayne Shelford, President, Royal New Zealand Returned Services and Association; Major Fiona Cassidy, Chair, National War Memorial Advisory Council; Representatives of Veteran associations; and Willie Apiata VC.
I also wish to extend a very warm welcome to all our veterans here and around the country, and to your families.
Finally, I welcome the delegation from Arras, and whānau of those who worked on the Arras tunnels during the First World War.
For over a century, Anzac Day has brought communities together to honour the service and sacrifice of New Zealanders in times of war and conflict. In recent years, our commemorations have come to include recognition of the New Zealand Wars between British and colonial forces and iwi Māori.
Anzac Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the many ways in which conflict has shaped our country’s history, as we continue to evolve as a society and as a member of the international community.
This year marks a number of noteworthy anniversaries across wars of the past century.
Sixty years ago, on Anzac Day 1963, New Zealand’s civilian surgical team arrived to assist casualties in the Vietnam War. They were the first New Zealanders to arrive and the last to leave.
The 27th of July will mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice in the Korean War: a conflict sometimes described as the ‘forgotten war’, despite the significant contribution New Zealanders made on Royal New Zealand Navy Frigates and in Kayforce – the last expeditionary force of its kind.
Eighty years ago, New Zealanders took part in three key battles in the Pacific – at Guadalcanal, at Vella Lavella, and at Mono in the Solomon Islands. They were among thousands of New Zealanders who served in the Pacific War. We acknowledge too the indigenous peoples of the Pacific, who made many great sacrifices in support of the Allied war effort.
May 1943 is often seen as the turning point for the Allies in the Battle of the Atlantic – one of the longest and most decisive campaigns of the Second World War. We acknowledge the strategic importance of the Merchant Navy in sustaining the war effort, despite the grave dangers faced by civilian merchant seafarers.
2023 also marks the 80th anniversary of the end of the North Africa campaign – the longest and most important land campaign fought by New Zealanders in the Second World War. Three New Zealanders were awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions in North Africa: Charles Upham, Keith Elliott, and Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu – the first Māori soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross while serving with New Zealand forces.
As we look back at these events, we are reminded of the many ways in which conflict has touched our lives and the lives of our forebears.
Today, we turn our thoughts to all those in our communities affected by war and conflict, whether as service personnel or civilians. Let us also remember all those living in areas of conflict around the world, facing ongoing insecurity, danger, and loss.
This Anzac Day, many New Zealanders are still facing the impact of recent devastating weather events. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the New Zealand Defence Force which has worked alongside local agencies, iwi, and community groups to provide vital assistance.
In times of war and disaster, New Zealanders have always done what they can to help their affected neighbours and communities – a heartening reminder of the goodness and humanity that underpins our society.
On Anzac Day, we acknowledge all those who have made sacrifices in the service of our country, and who continue to do so today. In recognising the enormity of those sacrifices, I hope we may all be inspired to bring such courage, decency, and selflessness into our own lives – on this, and every day to follow.
Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou.