Big crowds at Anzac services

Large crowds attend Anzac Day commemorations around the country marking the 97th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

• Thousands pay tribute at Gallipoli

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Radio NZ   |  25 Apr 2012  |

Large crowds have attended Anzac Day commemorations around the country marking the 97th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

Up to 20,000 turned out to the dawn service in Auckland and services at other centres also drew large numbers.

Christchurch

The dawn service in Christchurch was held in Cranmer Square.
In Christchurch, some 5000 people listened to the address from the Governor-General, Lieut-General Sir Gerry Mataparae, who spoke of the courage, compassion and commitment of the Anzac soldiers who died at Gallipoli.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker recognised the work of New Zealand and Australian armed forces in the aftermath of the destructive earthquake of 22 February last year.

The service took place for the first time in Cranmer Square, rather than Cathedral Square where the ceremony was held before the February quake.

A cross made of wood salvaged from ChristChurch Cathedral was placed on top of a temporary cenotaph in the square.
Large crowd at Auckland service

Auckland

Families turned out at ceremonies in Auckland and other centres.
In a fine and warm early morning in Auckland, up to 20,000 people gathered at the dawn service outside the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

The ceremony began with bagpipes ringing out in the still air before veterans marched onto the museum square to quiet applause.

Auckland mayor Len Brown laid a wreath on the Cenotaph and, accompanied by students from New Zealand and Turkey, placed a cross in the Field of Remembrance.

The service wound up with a Hercules flying overhead.

Wellington

In Wellington more than 3000 people turned out at the Cenotaph where a single shot heralded the beginning of the dawn service.

The crowd stood silently as some 100 military veterans marched to the memorial.

In the opening prayer, Defence Force chaplain Lt Col Peter Savage made special mention of the three servicemen who had died overseas in the past year; SAS soldiers Corporal Doug Grant and Lance Corporal Leon Smith, and Corporal Douglas Hughes.

The French Ambassador to New Zealand, Francis Etienne, spoke of the importance of commemorating Gallipoli.

"Enemies of a century ago have become the friends of today. This is the reason why it is so important to remember," he said. "The worst of conflicts can lead to the most ... enduring peace."

Mr Etienne noted the significance of the day for France which lost more than 10,000 soldiers at Gallipoli.

Other centres

Several thousand people attended at Dunedin's dawn service, at the Cenotaph in Queens Gardens.
The dawn service in Dunedin was one of many held throughout the country.
In Hamilton, more than 2000 people of all ages were at the dawn service.

Among them was WWII veteran Bruce Murcott who served in the 24th Battalion in the Middle East and is believed to be the sole survivor of the 15th platoon that first went into training camp in 1940.

He says the public seem to be more involved in Anzac Day services. "That's why so many have turned out. Makes me fell very good."

Police in Whangarei say the gathering of some 2000 was the biggest crowd they had seen at an Anzac service in the city.

People lined the grass banks of the amphitheatre at Laurie Hall Park, where the service was moved three years ago to accommodate growing crowds.

The focus of the service has become a small field of remembrance where Whangarei school children stake hundreds of white crosses in the park, each with the name and photograph of a service man or woman killed at war.

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