Anzac Day 2016 is an opportunity for all New Zealanders to remember the sacrifice of previous generations and reflect on this formative time in our nation’s history, Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says.
This year marks 100 years since the first Anzac Day services were held, after the Massey Government declared 25th April 1916 a half-day holiday in recognition for the dead of Gallipoli.
“On that day, people in New Zealand, Australia and London first gathered to mourn the terrible loss of life incurred in the Gallipoli landings of a year before,” Ms Barry says.
“Those mourners did not know then that the bloodiest years of the war were still ahead.”
The same month, the New Zealand Division arrived in France to begin two and half years of brutal fighting in the trenches of the Western Front, which would leave more than 12,000 dead and leave no corner of our nation untouched by grief.
“This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the New Zealand Returned and Services Association (NZRSA), an organisation which to this day continues to have an important role in supporting returned service men and women and their families.”
“I commend the Student Volunteer Army’s Serve for NZ initiative, which asks New Zealanders to offer an hour of their time to help in their community. It is a fitting example of the Anzac spirit which remains with us today.”
A Dawn Service and the Anzac Day 2016 National Commemoration are being held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, with the Prime Minister and Governor-General in attendance, while local communities throughout the country will mark the occasion with their own ceremonies.
“Over the course of the 20th century the meaning of Anzac Day has evolved to acknowledge New Zealand’s involvement in subsequent wars, and our role in peacekeeping across the world,” Ms Barry says.
“On this Anzac Day, let us pause as a nation and remember the courage, sacrifice and loss of the men and women who have served our nation, shaped our identity and made the ultimate sacrifice,
“As Prime Minister William Massey said in 1916, ‘We do honour to the men – our men – who have perished – the men who fell fighting, the men who have fallen for the honour of their country … their memory will never be forgotten, so long as the Southern Cross looks down on Australia and on the islands of New Zealand.’”
Details about nationwide Anzac Day services can be found on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website www.mch.govt.nz
More information on the ongoing WW100 centennial commemorations programme can be found at ww100.govt.nz
Updated on 26th April 2016