Written on 23 April 2021 by Peter Hughes

Anzac poppies


“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.”

from Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen

Many of you will know this poem. It was written at the start of the First World War, but in New Zealand it has come to stand as a tribute to the Anzacs. This weekend, we remember them. I speak a lot about the spirit of service, and to me the Anzacs embody the spirit of service like no other. They fought far away from home for a higher purpose – for New Zealand – and sadly, many of them did not return.

New Zealanders across the country will join together on Sunday to commemorate Anzac Day, which marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. This is a day when we honour those who served and died for Aotearoa. We are so truly grateful.

This Anzac Day we are holding a service to recognise the contribution all public servants made during wartime, and in memory of those who died in conflict, we will unveil a plaque here at Te Kawa Mataaho. These are people who dedicated their lives to serving New Zealanders, and ultimately who sacrificed their lives for their country.

More than 8000 public servants served in the First World War, and over 1000 lost their lives. At the time, individuals and groups of public servants paused to remember those who had fallen and passed on messages of sympathy to their families. And that is what this morning’s service is about: remembering what public servants have sacrificed for us all in times of war. You can learn more about the ‘Public Service at War’ on the NZ History website.

Some public servants, especially those in the New Zealand Defence Force, Fire and Emergency Services and New Zealand Police, often face dangerous and even life-threatening situations in their work. For me Anzac Day is also an important reminder of the courage they show every day – and the sacrifice they make to serve their community.

If you can, please do support the annual Poppy Appeal by purchasing a poppy – either in person or through their Givealittle page. The Appeal is the primary source of funds for the RSA’s extensive provision of support services to the service community – and they thoroughly deserve our support.

Noho ora mai.

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