By Pauline Stewart.
Anzac Day is the most reverent day of the year for New Zealand and there is no doubt that it is true for Whitianga and for all the other places where ceremonies were held across the Coromandel Peninsula. The Informer has news of Whitianga, Tairua, Hahei and Pauanui. People of all ages and conditions, many with no connection to someone in the Great War come out in the darkness to remember. They remember different things, different people. Everyone is quiet and the parade and marching orders ring out above every Assembly. There are lofty speeches - some account the saddest details of loss and others speak of remarkable courage and bravery. All of this is so we won’t forget.
Our thoughts are lofty, and we aspire again to be more peaceful and honour the sacrifice made. For whatever reasons so many young men died at Gallipoli and so many young men and women have died in ensuing wars, we want to remember them, and we glimpse the best reason what they died for we can only now value the peace we have and let it mold our daily lives. May it keep us serving with generosity of spirit. ‘No greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends’ (loose translation) applies universally to men and women. We pray that we never have to face war again, yet it is there raging across the world but it’s as close as our mobile phones. This greater love must one day win. For now, we are called to join all those who choose to remember, and we stand silent in the sacrifice of those who fell and those who came home.
Six hundred gathered at Soldiers Memorial Park in Whitianga for the 6:00am serivce. Prior to this, at 5:30am, marchers representing Army, Navy, Airforce, Fire Brigade, Emergency Services and St John Ambulance followed the piper, Phil Nielsen from Mercury Bay Club to the cenotaph.
Perhaps the most poignant element in the service was the Last Post, played by bugler, Geith Pickford. Both Phil and Geith have led with the pipes and bugle for over 20 years.
By Pam Ferla.
Over 200 gathered at Tairua and Servicemen’s Cemetery for the ANZAC Dawn Service in a moving ceremony beside the harbour.
Tairua resident, Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Anker (retired), gave the address. He pointed out that New Zealand’s population was a mere one million during the ‘dark days’ of WW1, when 100,000 NZ Force troops embarked on their campaign with a spirit of camaraderie.
“There were 18,000 killed, many more thousands wounded and countless thousands suffering shell shock, which was never really addressed in those early days.”
As well as outlining the history of New Zealand’s contribution to wars and peacekeeping, he shared a family telegram received by his father, Anthony Lewis Anker, while serving four years in the 25th Battalion, 2ndNZ Expeditionary Force in WW2 in Egypt.
The telegrams stated that he was the father of a baby girl. Then he received another telegram saying he was the father of a baby girl. It turned out that his wife had given birth to twin girls! And like many serving overseas, he missed the joys of his children’s early years and did not meet his daughters until they were four.
President of Tairua/Pauanui Returned Services Association, Warwick Brooks, pointed out that as well as the Soldiers Wall of Remembrance commemorating those who enlisted with the Armed Forces in WW2 and subsequent theatres of war, there are many resting nearby. “Many of us have fathers, mothers, grandparents, great grandparents, uncles and aunts resting in other cemeteries throughout NZ, and today remember them all, wherever their resting place may be.”
It was a fresh morning as the sun rose at the Dawn Service in Pauanui, which was held in front of the surf club. About 150 attended the service.
About 120 people attended Pauanui Civil Service, held at Pauanui Sports and Recreation Club. Mike Bearman welcomed them and pointed out that it was the 107th year that ANZAC services had been held, the first being in London to acknowledge Gallipoli. Lt Col Wayne Anker also spoke at this service. Four students from Hikuai School, accompanied by Principal, Rachell Leitch, gave their perspective of WW1 and Gallipoli. Reefs were laid on the club lawn as part of the ceremony.
Padre for Tairua/Pauanui RSA, Jean Fanshawe, attended the Dawn Service at Tairua and the Tairua Civil Ceremony.
Caption: Peter Sheehan at 99 lays a wreath Peter is Whitianga’s only surviving World War 11 veteran.