PM's Anzac message for Kiwis

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it is an Anzac Day like no other, but the purpose of honouring the Anzac commitment and "enduring hopes of peace" remains the same.

The Covid-19 lockdown has cancelled Anzac services today, but this morning thousands of Kiwis are not letting it stop them paying their respects.

Up and down the country, New Zealanders gathered at their letterboxes, front doors and living rooms as part of the "Stand at Dawn" campaign, and tuning in to a live stream of a virtual Anzac Day service.

The Prime Minister stood at the driveway of Premier House in Wellington at dawn with her partner Clarke Gayford and father Ross Ardern.

In a broadcast address this morning, Defence Minister Ron Mark said many of the usual Anzac Day activities couldn't take place this year under lockdown. However, there was still plenty Kiwis could do to mark the day.

"Pause, reflect, pay our respects and give thanks to those who gave so much not just 105 years ago at Gallipoli, or the six long years of the Second World War but for every conflict and ever operation which we have been involved with since them. We owe them that it is a privilege to do so.

"This Anzac Day look after each other, remember, commemorate and give thanks - but inside your bubble."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stands at dawn on the driveway of Premier House with her father...
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stands at dawn on the driveway of Premier House with her father Ross Ardern (left) and partner Clarke Gayford. Photo: Pool
Mark spoke to the ongoing relationship of "mateship" with Australia, "binding us today as ever".

"While it was forged on the beach of Gallipoli, in the years since we have served together all over the world. We should be and are proud of that relationship, and strength we give each other."

The measures Kiwis have taken to combat Covid-19 had "turned our lives upside down" - but the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, which struck in the same year as World War 1 ended killing thousands, provided a "terrible" reminder of what could have happened, he said.

Mark spoke of a training camp near his home at Featherston, where 2500 men became sick from influenza, and 172 died over a few short weeks.

In all, about 9000 New Zealanders were killed, adding to the more than 18,000 who soldiers killed in the war.

"Today as we work to face the ongoing challenge we should look back on the strength and endurance shown during battles such as 'Bloody Passchendaele' in 1915 ... and many more since.

"As Minister of Defence I am very proud of our defence force, and thank all those working during this current crisis.

"As always, they stand ready to do more, as they have always done, to step in threats to national wellbeing and safety, while lending aid and support to our Pacific neighbours and friends.

"Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou. Lest we forget."

Veterans, despite not being able to gather alongside their peers, donned their uniforms and medals, just as they would for official public Anzac Day gatherings.

In a special address this morning, Ardern told the nation today would be an "Anzac Day that hasn't been done before".

"It is an important tradition spanning generations, acknowledging those who served our country and sacrificed their all.

"Things are different this year but we are united by our respect for veterans and service personnel.

"Individual acts of commemoration – that is what will form our collective tribute.

"But so do our acts every day. We are a nation that has had its character defined by many things, but one is the sacrifice of others."

Ardern referenced the more than 11,000 soldiers who lost their lives, the 140,000 men and women who served overseas, and those on the home front.

"These figures will never be abstract. Each represents a father, mother, brother, friend afflicted by conflict."

Today would involve finding new ways of remembering but the purpose remained the same.

"Today we honour the Anzac commitment and reflect on enduring hopes for peace in a world that does not ask for sacrifice of war but instead asks for a commit to empathy kindness, and shared humanity.

"May we remember that as we stand together this Anzac Day.

"Lest we forget."

 

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