They came to remember

A soldier stands guard at the Memorial Gates in Queenstown on Saturday morning during the dawn...
A soldier stands guard at the Memorial Gates in Queenstown on Saturday morning during the dawn service. PHOTOS: TRACEY ROXBURGH
Pipers lead thousands of people from the Athenaeum Hall in Arrowtown to the war memorial.
Pipers lead thousands of people from the Athenaeum Hall in Arrowtown to the war memorial.
Queenstown Lakes District councillor Simon Stamers-Smith with a wreath he laid at the Arrowtown...
Queenstown Lakes District councillor Simon Stamers-Smith with a wreath he laid at the Arrowtown war memorial on Saturday on behalf of the council.

They came in their thousands. Unprecedented numbers turned out in Queenstown on Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings and remember the fallen.

A dawn service in the resort attracted about 3000 people, among them crew from HMNZS Otago, second secretary to the Australian High Commission Nick Williams, Ross Smith, representing the chief of defence force, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden and Queenstown RSA president Lyall McGregor.

Barely a breath of wind came off Lake Wakatipu as the crowd gathered around the Memorial Gates at Marine Parade, with the short service finishing as the sun rose over the Remarkables.

A few hours later thousands more gathered for the civil service in Queenstown, beginning with a parade from the Memorial Gates to the overflowing Queenstown Memorial Centre for official speeches, which included a reading by Wakatipu High School head girl Victoria Boult, and a special presentation to former Queenstown RSA president Dave Geddes.

At Arrowtown, the Athenaeum Hall was also at capacity for commemorations, led by Arrowtown RSA president John Lindsay and chaplain Rev Chris Tweddell.

Crowds gathered on the street to hear the service, which included a reading by Arrowtown School pupils and an address by guest speaker Philip Clarke, who recounted his grandfather's service.

Rev Tweddell told the crowd there were ''difficult bits'' of the war which should not be edited out of history.

''Otherwise, this [Anzac Day] simply becomes ... a nationalistic sentimentality, which we should avoid.''

Following the service, a pipe band led the crowd to the recently restored Arrowtown War Memorial for the laying of wreaths, the playing of The Last Post, cannon fire and a fly-past.

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