Anzac Day, held on the 25th of April each year, is an important day for New Zealand and Australian residents. The day was initially established to commemorate the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (the allies quickly termed them ‘Anzacs’) who died while fighting on the shores of Gallipoli during World War I.
Since then, the day has become a time to honour Australian and New Zealand soldiers who have served in past and current conflicts. Typically two major services are held in each town and city of New Zealand, one at dawn and one during the day. If you’re in New Zealand on the 25th of April, we highly recommend you attend a service. Resident or not, everyone is invited to join and pay tribute.
What an Anzac Day Service Looks Like
In the days leading up to Anzac Day in New Zealand, there will be people out and about asking for donations to the Returned Services Association (RSA). If you make a donation, you’ll be given a paper poppy to wear to show that you’ve supported the appeal. In this country, the red poppy has become a symbol of Anzac Day, though many countries wear it on Armistice Day (11th of November). The poppy is linked with battlefield deaths during World War I where the poppies were the first to bloom in the mud of Flanders Fields.
A typical service has a marching parade of soldiers, veterans, and other uniformed services such as police, girl guides and scouts. A poem called “In Flanders Fields,” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, will be read, solidifying the link between the soldiers, the war and the poppies. Speeches are told, wreaths are laid and during two minutes of silence a lone bugle is heard calling “The Last Post”.
Where to Find a Service
No matter where you are in New Zealand, you are bound to find a service being held at the local war memorial. You’ll see white crosses signifying the soldiers from that town or area who died during World War I.
The largest Auckland service is held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and during the day there are events and experiences for everyone, including poppy making for kids and a talk from NZ’s latest recipient of the Victoria Cross, Mr Willie Apiata.
The main service in Taupo is the dawn service at the cenotaph on Tongariro Domainl Rotorua, known for its proud Maori heritage, will begin the day with a dawn service at Ohinemutu's Muruika Urupa on the shores of Lake Rotorua.
The New Zealand Herald provides a list of great spots to attend a dawn or day service amongst the beautiful wine and sounds areas of Marlborough.
Cranmer Square is where the main dawn service is held, and the Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square sees the main day service, though there are many other services being held around the city, listed by the Christchurch City Council.
Three main services will be held in Dunedin. The dawn service is held at the Cenotaph Queens Gardens, while the day service held in the Memorial Hall in Cromwell.
Wherever you are, the RSA website can help you find a service closest to you. Your Kiwi Holiday Park hosts can help you with directions and additional information.