Anzac Commemorative Address – Dawn Service

Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024 05:14 PM
Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mai ia tawhiti pamamao, te moana nui a Kiwa, kua tae whakaiti mai matou, ki to koutou papa whenua. No koutou te tapuwae, no matou te tapuwae, kua honoa pumautia.
Ko nga toa kua hinga nei, o te Waipounamu, o te Ika a Maui, he okioki tahi me o koutou toa ki tenei onekura tupuna, e moe, e moe.
From the distant Pacific Ocean, we arrive with humility upon your land. Our footprints and your footprints are joined forever. The fallen warriors of our people and your people rest together within your ancestral soil. Rest in peace.
We meet at dawn at the site of a great battlefield. We meet here to commemorate the ground around us as the final resting place of far too many of our young men.
Turkish, British, Australian and New Zealand men.
Young men on all sides of the battle who never lived to see their respective countries emerge from empire to become strong independent nations.
Fraternal bonds were forged and nations who were once enemies, are now friends. Major General and later President Ataturk’s words to ANZAC mothers after the Gallipoli campaign spoke to that friendship:
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.”
We meet at dawn to commemorate the terrible loss of so many lives, yet we cannot hallow these grounds. The men who died here have already made sacred the ground upon which we come every twenty-fifth of April.
What we can do is remember their sacrifice while reflecting on their appalling loss. Gallipoli strongly lives on in New Zealand’s national consciousness because we lost so many young men. Ten percent of our adult males served during the Great War. Their average age was 25 and we lost a fifth of them, many here. Our young country lost so much potential and possible futures on this ground and so many other fields across Europe.
Doug Hill, among us today, is the great grandson of Mrs. Eliza O’Donnell. Mrs. O’Donnell had two sons fight at Gallipoli. One son Jack died here, the other son Bill survived, only to die at Messines. Another son, Edward, lost his leg at Passchendaele. A son-in-law was killed in France.
Anzac Day for Doug, as with all of us gathered here this morning, reveals how our memories link the past with the present, and bind our efforts to learn from history so as never to repeat its worst expression, war.
But standing here at Gallipoli, our words matter less than their deeds. We will never forget what they did here.
Dawn begins each day. Sunrise speaks to the promise of a better day. From a long-ago battlefield to this morning’s promise, we must leave this ground dedicated to making our worlds better. Then the men buried here will not have died in vain.
Yet we live in a troubled world, the worst in memory.
We have emerged from a global pandemic a more divided world. Regional instabilities and the chaos they create threaten the security of too many.
So we must all do more. Demand more. And deliver more.
It took Winston Churchill nearly forty years after the fighting waged across this peninsula, and a second World War, to learn from Gallipoli’s experience to declare, “to jaw jaw is better than war war.”
It was true then. It is true now. Never has diplomacy been more needed to de-escalate conflicts and ease tensions. That is our lesson and resolve when leaving Gallipoli today.
You will create your own memories and draw your own lessons from being here. But we must all come together, as people and as nations, to do more to honour those who paid with their lives.
We must protect and care for our young.
We must reject and resist those who seek to conquer and control.
We must always seek the path of peace.
Then, and only then, will the men buried here not have died in vain.

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