Hamilton’s Anzac Day services honoured those who have served in all wars and peacekeeping operations, with a special tribute to New Zealand’s involvement in WWI.
Since 2014, the WW100 project has marked the First World War centenary through a nationwide programme of events and remembrance services.
The theme for 2019’s conclusion of the centenary was ‘finding our way back’.
While the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918 ended WWI, it marked the start of our surviving soldiers and nurses’ journey home from the theatres of war and into peacetime society.
Hamilton observed Anzac Day with a Dawn and Civic Service at Memorial Park, coordinated by Hamilton City Council.
Both events began with a parade from Knox St to the Cenotaph with Territorial Force Military Secretary Lieutenant Colonel Olly Te Ua as the Master of Ceremonies.
Hamilton Mayor Andrew King delivered the first address of the Civic Service.
“Today we stand strong, as we share our love for and honour those who died in conflict. Today we stand strong, as we share our love for and honour those who returned from the battlefield scarred and haunted,” said Mayor King.
The student speaker, Fairfield College’s Elizabeth Bainbridge, compared her way of life with those of the same age who went to war.
“[We go] to the beach carrying an umbrella. When they went to the beach, they carried guns,” she said.
“To our Anzac soldiers, we honour and respect you in the hope we are able to build greater strength and optimism, so our tomorrows will be brighter because of the yesterdays you gave.”
Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher delivered a message from the Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy.
“When our service personnel returned home [from WWI], they tried to pick up the threads of a life they had left behind,” he said. “For many, the physical and emotional effects of the battlefield lingered, and it was not always possible to resume their previous careers.
“New Zealand Defence Force personnel continue to serve their country in confronting and challenging situations. They and their families feel the impact of war, as do our citizens who have come to New Zealand as refugees from war zones.”
Joining Lt Col Te Ua to lead the ceremony were members of the Hamilton Returned Services Association, Hamilton City Cadet Corps, Waikato Mounted Rifles, Hamilton Caledonian Society Pipe Band, Hamilton City Brass Band, Waikato Rivertones Chorus and Mighty River Harmony.
Wreath layers included New Zealand and Australian Defence Force personnel, representatives of Veterans Associations, emergency services staff, community groups and school pupils.