The cancellation of Hamilton’s Anzac Day events will not diminish the remembrance of our city’s fallen and returned soldiers.
That’s the message from Hamilton City Council and Hamilton Returned and Services Association (RSA), after the Royal NZ RSA announced Anzac Day services around the country would be cancelled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The NZ RSA decision is in line with Government advice to downscale, cancel or postpone events with an expected attendance of more than 500 people.
Hamilton’s traditional Dawn and Civic Services both attract thousands of people every year to pay tribute to New Zealanders who have fought in all wars and peacekeeping operations.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the cancellation of Hamilton’s ANZAC Day service was a blow, but the right thing to do given the number of older people who traditionally attend Anzac Day events.
“We are taking COVID-19 very seriously but that doesn’t mean Anzac Day in Hamilton will not be observed,” she said.
“Hamiltonians will still want to honour our veterans and defence force personnel on what is a very special day for the city and for New Zealand.
“We’re already considering how we might work with the RSA to mark the occasion in another way and will advise details as soon as possible. But it won’t include official public gatherings of any kind.”
Hamilton RSA President Jan Luttrell said the health of its members and the wider community was the organisation’s priority.
“This is a difficult decision in an unprecedented environment, and we apologise to our Veterans and their families,” she said.
The RSA’s annual Poppy Day fundraising appeal has also been postponed, and the installation of white crosses on Memorial Park, coordinated by the Fields of Remembrance Trust, will not go ahead.
People may still choose to visit the city’s Cenotaph or other memorial sites to pay their respects on or around Anzac Day.
Those who do should follow Ministry of Health advice available at the time. Right now, advice includes avoiding personal contact, staying home if you feel unwell, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues.