Special Anzac dawn service for Dunedin

The 2014 Anzac Day dawn service in the Queens Gardens. Photo by Craig Baxter
The 2014 Anzac Day dawn service in the Queens Gardens. Photo by Craig Baxter

With this month marking the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign - the first major event of World War 1 involving New Zealand soldiers - Anzac Day commemorations will be bigger than ever.

A crowd of up to 10,000 people is expected to turn out at dawn on Anzac Day this year to remember all those who fought and died at Gallipoli 100 years ago, and in conflicts since.

In his 15th year as Anzac Day dawn service convener, incoming Dunedin RSA president Lox Kellas and his team are planning a service that mixes innovation with tradition.

Among new elements for the centenary commemoration on April 25 will be more involvement from young people and a focus on the Turkish involvement in the Gallipoli conflict.

Mr Kellas said the march on and service, from 6.15am at the Cenotaph in Queens Gardens, would also be slightly longer than usual to allow for the higher number of groups wanting to take part.

''However, we need to be careful not to impact on the other Anzac Day parades and services later in the day.''

The traditional elements remain, including the Howitzer gun salute, the marching on of veterans, speeches, prayers, and music from the Dunedin RSA Choir and Kaikorai Metropolitan Brass. There will also be several new elements in the service.

''Our aim this year has been to get more young people involved in the dawn service, and we have definitely achieved that,'' Mr Kellas said.

Student leaders from Dunedin's high schools and tertiary institutions have been invited to be part of the official party, which also includes representatives of the New Zealand and Australian governments, the British High Commission and local dignitaries.

The guest speaker will be Joint Forces New Zealand commander Major General Tim Gall, and the lessons will be read by Otago Boys' High School head boy Scott Bezett and Otago Girls' High School head girl Karley Wilden-Palms.

In honour of the centenary of the Gallipoli landings on April 25, 1915, the Naval ensign and regimental colours of the 2nd/4th Battalion, Royal NZ Infantry Regiment will be marched on to the cenotaph grounds and displayed during the dawn service. In addition, the Turkish flag will fly above the service alongside the New Zealand and Australian flags and the Union Jack.

The Turkish national anthem will be played after the New Zealand and Australian anthems are sung.

''It is important to acknowledge the Turkish people and to involve the Turkish community,'' Mr Kellas said.

Pupils from Tahuna Intermediate School will present 100 live poppies to 100 veterans at the ceremony. The Dunedin RSA is calling for veterans who would like to be among the 100 to receive poppies to register ahead of the event by phoning 466 4886.

''It is important that we get a cross-section of veterans to take part in this ceremony, so we are keen to hear from all veterans who are interested,'' Mr Kellas said.

To ensure the expected large crowd can be fully involved in the service, the proceedings will be projected on to a giant screen which will be suspended above the crowd. To maintain safety and quiet for the solemn occasion, the Cumberland St south and Crawford St north one-way roads will be closed for the duration of the dawn service. A traffic diversion will be in place around the waterfront.

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