They came in their thousands to ensure names etched in stone
do not fade into the blackness of history.
And, in the blackness of pre-dawn, an estimated 9000 people
stood still and silent in the cold as they pledged to
The crowd of warmly dressed men, women and children joined
military representatives in full regalia for yesterday's
6.30am Anzac Day dawn ceremony at the Dunedin Cenotaph in
After being greeted by twin blasts from a 104 howitzer, they
paid respect to all New Zealanders and Australians who served
their countries in war.
Among the speakers, Wing Commander Aaron Young, of the Royal
New Zealand Air Force, struck a chord as he spoke of the need
to remember, 100 years on from the outbreak of World War 1.
The anniversary would be a poignant reminder to all New
Zealanders of the sacrifices made by thousands in serving
their countries, he said.
''September of this year will mark 100 years since Otago and
Southland troops first embarked on trains at the Dunedin
Railway Station for Port Chalmers, where they boarded ships
and sailed off to war.
''It is an ideal opportunity for us to ensure those men and
women do not become merely names inscribed on our cenotaphs
and memorials. They are and always will be the sons and
daughters of New Zealand, and we will remember them.''
The Wellington-based RNZAF career management director was
also speaking from experience, having been deployed in 2003
to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
But it was World War 1 that had taken a particularly savage
toll, as more than 100,000 New Zealanders, mostly young men,
served - about 10% of the country's population at the time.
About 18,000 of them died, nearly one in five of those who
left New Zealand shores.
W Cmdr Young said the campaign at Gallipoli changed forever
the notions New Zealanders had of themselves.
''In 1914 about a fifth of New Zealanders had been born
overseas, mainly in the United Kingdom, and for the vast
majority the British empire was central to their perception
of who they were and their place in the world.
''At Gallipoli, New Zealanders discovered something important
about their identity, and since 1915 New Zealanders -
whatever their background - have developed unique bonds
through shared adversity, at Gallipoli, El Alamein, Bamyan
and 1000 places in between.''
W Cmdr Young said New Zealand's present population had about
the same percentage of foreign-born residents, who brought
with them memories of war and conflict in their many
different home nations.
It was important for their knowledge and experiences to be
blended with those of multi-generational New Zealanders.
W Cmdr Young said everyone assembled at Anzac services had
different understandings of loss and sacrifice, but all could
be proud of the battle honours and traditions of servicemen
and women, as well as the Kiwi traits of ''mateship,
professionalism, respecting others and getting the job
Service convener Lox Kellas was pleased with the weather and
''What stood out to me was the presence of the schools. It
was outstanding, just a sea of young people,'' he said.