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A hush descends over New Zealand

There are shadows moving quietly coming from all directions. Low conversation creates a calmness and common awareness. The dawn is coming but all the preparation is in the darkness. Whitianga Parade – As the shapes of people become more defined; many are in uniforms navy, army, airforce, Fire Brigade, St. John Ambulance forming up in disciplined lines familiar to them. The glint of medals is everywhere catching a street light, or the first light of day. They adorn civilian chests as well as the proud uniforms; there are some children who wear the medals.
 |  Pauline Stewart  | 

The civilian shadows have gathered in the park along the street edges; their lines are also slightly military, definitely not casual. There is a reverence rather than a sense of anticipation. This is no ordinary event – but extraordinary.

Then some shouts, loud and clear, are heard from a distance. The long uniformed lines are suddenly crisp, to attention, and the piper begins leading the march of old and young uniformed lines to where the hundreds of shadows have gathered.

The dawn has come, we can see one another. We are gathered together, and with sombre dignity, we remember. We must not forget. It is Anzac Day.

Whitianga: The Soldiers memorial was the centrepiece, and around it gathered abut 700  parade members and those from the wider community. The number of young people and small children was significant as was the number of very senior adults. Trevor Fraser, of the local RSA was Master of Ceremonies, Squadron Leader, Katrina Chipman was guest speaker, with Scott Simpson our local Member of Parliament following with a short narrative. It was a moving experience to see the young faces and hear the names of those who had died in the two world wars read aloud by the head students at Mercury Bay Area School, Hugo Smith de Zeeuw and Francie Lidgard.

We were mindful that some of those names read out were the same age as Hugo and Francie, just 17 years. A community choir led the singing of Advance Australia Fair in addition to the New Zealand national anthem and a New Zealand Anzac hymn. People stood reverently and no one fidgets. Politics is in everything but for Anzac Day political differences seem to be in the far back row or not present at all. A country’s freedom and absence of war is worth far more than political differences and divisions. The thousands of young lives lost must not be in vain in terms of the peace within our own country. All pulling in the same direction and combining our resources will be the key to facing our future as a strong, positive and prosperous country.

Matarangi – Photo credit Liam, Matarangi Beach paper

Matarangi had two Anzac services. The first was an informal gathering at dawn, down at the ocean. People lined the beach in silence as an act of remembrance. This gathering was initiated during Covid and proved to be very meaningful and now continues with growing popularity. The formal gathering at 10.30am was also very well attended.

Whangamata – Photo credit Sue Mitchell Photography

Hahei volunteer Fire Brigade Chief, Ian Carter contemplates the names on the crosses with his grandchild – Photo credit Lorne DePape

Hahei Anzac Service was at the Kotare Reserve Memorial Garden and indeed, the Memorial Garden and its wall were focal points of the service where people laid their wreaths and contemplated the names of those who had never returned from the war.

Tairua – Photo credit Tairua Advertiser