Many of you will have turned out for services to commemorate Anzac Day, our national day of remembrance.
It’s great to see the numbers who want to keep alive the memory of those who served our country in past conflicts, and to honour the men and women who are serving today. Attendances at ceremonies up and down New Zealand seem to grow year on year. What’s really moving is how many children and school groups get involved.
Local RSAs of course do a tremendous job on Anzac Day, as people gather at services to pay tribute to the men and women who’ve carried on the Anzac tradition for the past century.
But we ought to acknowledge too the huge number of public servants who come together to help make Anzac Day a special day for New Zealanders. They work across agency boundaries, focusing on getting venues ready, supporting veterans, managing risks and just making sure the commemorations are a poignant experience for the public.
Let’s start with the New Zealand Defence Force. It’s a really big day for them. I’m told that this year the NZDF supported about 300 commemorations and community events in New Zealand. They sent contingents to Gallipoli, and also to France and Belgium. But they also had personnel at services in many other lands, including Afghanistan, South Korea, Ethiopia, and various Middle East states. The NZDF always carry out their responsibilities with real professionalism.
DIA’s Visits and Ceremonial Office had an important lead role in the dawn and morning services at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, and later in the day at the Ataturk Memorial, on Wellington’s south coast. They did their job with dignity and polish, as you’d expect.
Lots of others played a part in ensuring events ran well. In Wellington, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade were closely involved in the planning and preparation. And let’s not forget the Police and council staff. Their know-how and capability are critical at times of big civic gatherings.
As State Services Commissioner I want to say, well done. I’m proud of you, and all of you should be proud of yourselves.
On a day when we were acknowledging the service and sacrifices of the past and honouring those who serve today, it is fitting that you did your jobs with that same spirit of service.