24 April 2023

Tomorrow is the day we reflect on the courage and selflessness the Anzacs showed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915.

They made a tremendous sacrifice for our country, and their legacy continues to inspire us today.

As we reflect on the contribution of the Anzacs, we should also spare a thought for the many service men and women who have served New Zealand since Gallipoli, and who continue to serve today.

For this year’s Anzac Day blog, I asked some ex-service men and women and the current New Zealand Defence Force Chaplain what Anzac Day means to them.  

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Wood said Anzac Day is a day of commemoration and observation.

“The commemoration is straight forward. I supported my father who served with the 27th Machine Gun Battalion and the 3rd Division during WWII. Four of our family served in the Defence Force and two have seen operational service, so the commemoration component has shifted from a Mum and Dad focus to a more personal focus about those I served with.

“The observation aspect of Anzac Day is, for me, a check on the health of the nation by watching how we choose to recognise those who have helped form the national values we now live with. Is attendance at Anzac services still strong? Is attendance still intergenerational, and do we recognise that there are younger veterans?”

Principal Chaplain Pete Olds told me Anzac Day is an opportunity to reflect on the fact that there is always a cost associated with peace.  

“When we are wise, we pay that cost through diplomacy, working to get alongside others, forging common ground and seeking to understand one another better. When we become complacent and think we can escape that cost as a nation, then there is inevitably a greater cost.

“While we are a small nation, we cannot opt out of that network of relationships and responsibility, and I believe we can and should have a louder voice.”

Ange Coyle, former Army corporal and now a public servant, said for her Anzac Day is about honouring and remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and acknowledging those who continue to serve their country today. She said Anzac Day is also about gratitude for the freedoms and life we live today.

Tomorrow, New Zealanders in cities and towns across the country will gather to commemorate Anzac Day. I encourage all public servants to take a moment to reflect on the significance of Anzac Day. I’m proud to lead a Public Service that embodies the values of service, dedication and selflessness in the work we do every day to make a difference for New Zealanders.

The Anzacs were united in the belief that they were involved in something much bigger than themselves. Thousands of Kiwi soldiers died serving their country and fighting for a higher purpose.

We should remember them.