Honouring the Anzac spirit

23 April 2020

This Anzac Day will be like no other. We’ll stand together apart to remember those who served our country, forgoing public commemorations to ensure the health and safety of the nation.

A memorial service held in 1928 at the temporary Cenotaph on Anzac Corner at the bottom of Molesworth Street.

A memorial service held in 1928 at the temporary Cenotaph on Anzac Corner at the bottom of Molesworth Street.

Wellington RSA President Theo Kuper says while there will be no physical Anzac Day services, everyone can honour and pay their respect to veterans by keeping the community safe.

“This year we can still all draw together, remembering service and sacrifice in conflict and the strength that comes from working together to overcome adversity.”

One way to show support is to participate in the #StandAtDawn campaign.

“At 6am on 25 April we encourage Wellingtonians to stand at the end of their driveway, in their living room, on a balcony or at their place of essential work, safely maintaining a physical distance, to take a moment to remember all that Anzac Day represents.”

Held annually since 1916, Anzac Day has been observed on 25 April and commemorates New Zealanders killed in war and honours returned and serving servicemen and women. The date marks the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.

Wellington City Libraries Local and New Zealand History Specialist Gábor Tóth says those who served in World War I (1914-1918), did so in the Anzac sprit. They sacrificed their youth, their families, and so much more, with many ultimately sacrificing their lives.

“They gave up their livelihoods as young men, they gave up their careers, and lots of them of course left behind family. There was also the sacrifice made by women – they gave up their husbands, fiancés, and boyfriends.

On Anzac Day 1932, the dedication of the National War Memorial and Carillon took place.

On Anzac Day 1932, the dedication of the National War Memorial and Carillon took place. 

“Once the war was over, there were a lot of young widows – a 20-year-old widow was not uncommon for the time – and those who had children before their husbands went overseas were left to bring them up alone.”

Many of the men who did return from war, had another battle on their hands – their mental health.

“This wasn’t really talked about. Men came back from the war seriously damaged because it was horrific beyond belief. That was something that society, at that point in time, wasn’t really able to deal with or could even comprehend.”

Gábor says men returned with missing limbs and terrible injuries. Some were unable to form stable relationships due to the physical and mental trauma they had endured. As a result, there were men who did not go on to have families of their own and this was why it was quite common for medals to be passed down to nephews and nieces.

An official dawn service will be broadcast from 6am on Anzac Day on Radio New Zealand National. The morning service includes the Last Post, national anthem, and an address by Hon. Ron Mark, Minister of Defence / Minister for Veterans.

There will also be a special Anzac Day programme at 11am on TVNZ 1 or TVNZ On Demand.

Kiwis are being encouraged to acknowledge Anzac Day with a show of support in the form of poppy displays on letterboxes or in windows. Here is a simple tutorial for making a paper poppy, or print out Council’s Anzac Day-themed Colour In Welly and decorate and display it on the day.

More ideas and information about commemorating Anzac Day from home can be found here.