8500 at Dunedin Anzac dawn service

An estimated crowd of between 8500 and 9000 people gathered around the Dunedin Cenotaph in Queens Gardens for this morning's Anzac Day dawn service.

Forecast rain held off and other than a slight breeze the weather was fine.

Bagpipes called men, women and children to the ceremony, which started once a parade - led by the City of Dunedin Pipe Band - marched to the Cenotaph.

A drum roll to call the spirits signalled two rounds from a 105 howitzer at 6.30am, commencing the service.

Specially selected hymns, prayers and lessons punctuated speeches and Anzac dedications.

Guest speaker Wing Commander Aaron Young, of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, gave the Anzac address.

He said this year's 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1 provided the ideal opportunity for all New Zealanders to acknowledge and remember those who had served, and died, for their country in war and conflict.

Dozens of wreaths were laid on the Cenotaph before three volleys from the 2/4 Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment firing party prompted bugler Ralph Miller to play the Last Post and Revellie.

The crowd was dismissed shortly before 7.30am, and all were invited to view the Roll of Honour at the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, where free tea, coffee and Anzac biscuits awaited.

Other Anzac services will follow in Dunedin and the rest of Otago through the day.

Per ardua ad astra

do not despair...for johnny-head-in-air, he sleeps as sound...as johnny underground/fetch out no shroud...for johnny-in-the-cloud/and keep your tears..for him in after years. John Pudney,1945.

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