Demand prompts dawn service

Queenstown RSA president David Geddes (left), Rotary Club of Queenstown member Simon Stamers-Smith (centre) and RSA member Bob Crosbie were among about 50 volunteers from the RSA, Rotary and Queenstown and Frankton fire brigades who were out in force in the resort and Frankton to collect donations for Poppy Day yesterday, before Anzac Day on Thursday. Photo by James Beech.
Queenstown RSA president David Geddes (left), Rotary Club of Queenstown member Simon Stamers-Smith (centre) and RSA member Bob Crosbie were among about 50 volunteers from the RSA, Rotary and Queenstown and Frankton fire brigades who were out in force in the resort and Frankton to collect donations for Poppy Day yesterday, before Anzac Day on Thursday. Photo by James Beech.
A dawn service to commemorate Anzac Day will be held by the Queenstown Returned and Services Association (RSA) for the first time in living memory.

The resort's second service, about mid-morning, will include a policewoman on a horse, commemorating the huge number of horses killed in World War 1.

President David Geddes said none of the 80 members of the Queenstown RSA could remember the last time a dawn service was conducted. This year's service was prompted by consistent interest from the Wakatipu public over the past two or three years and the attendance of two large transtasman groups, which would swell the crowd to more than twice the usual number in a small waterfront area.

About 350 delegates and family members were expected to attend the BDO New Zealand and BDO Australia partners' annual meeting and conference in Queenstown and more than 150 of those attending were interested in attending an Anzac Day service in the resort.

Participants of a Contiki staff reunion in the resort were also keen to attend.

Kate Pirovano
Kate Pirovano
The Anzac Day dawn service will start beside the Queenstown Memorial Gates near the waterfront of Marine Parade at 6.45am and last 15 to 20 minutes.

Deputy Prime Minister and Clutha-Southland MP Bill English and Australian High Commission counsellor Lucy Charlesworth, of Wellington, would be involved, Mr Geddes said.

BDO NZ chief financial officer Rhonda Parry offered, and was invited by the RSA, to read from the diary of her grandfather, James Philip Guy, born in Kingston in 1888. He enlisted in the 5th Otago Mounted Rifles and served in the Gallipoli campaign of World War 1.

The trooper was shot on August 6, 1915, but survived and was repatriated. Anzac Day participants will gather again at the gates at 9am for the traditional parade of hundreds of veterans and representatives, RSA members and supporters, members of the emergency services and the community.

They will follow the Queenstown and Southern Lakes Highland Pipe Band at 9.15am up closed Church St, along Camp St and up Shotover St to the Queenstown Memorial Centre, where a service will be held at 9.40am.

Mr Geddes said Sergeant Kate Pirovano, a Queenstown policewoman, had asked if she could sit on a horse outside the centre in memory of the role horses played in World War 1 - half a million horses were lost in battle in that conflict.

''It's a little bit different, but we think it's something special and inspired from within the community,'' Mr Geddes said.

''We think it's a lovely addition to the day.''

Cr Cath Gilmour will represent the Queenstown Lakes District Council. Mr English will be guest speaker at both Queenstown and Arrowtown services.

The service was expected to include the Queenstown Primary School Choir and readings from the head boy and girl of Wakatipu High School, Mr Geddes said.

''We're trying to involve the wider community, in particular the younger generations, because they are the future.''

• Arrowtown will hold its own Anzac Day Memorial Service a little later at 11am to allow guest speaker Bill English to arrive from the service in Queenstown.

Arrowtown RSA president John Lindsay said the service in the village would be presided over by the Rt Rev Dr David Coles before an expected 400 people in the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall.

Former RSA president Rupert Iles will give the first reading. Arrowtown School pupils Lana Stevenson and Nicholas Evans will read and members of the Arrowtown School Choir will lead the gathering in singing the New Zealand national anthem.

The Queenstown and Southern Lakes Highland Pipe Band will strike up outside the hall about 11.45am and lead the parade of an estimated 600 people to the Arrowtown Memorial on top of the hill.