Good morning and welcome to the ANZAC Day Citizens' Service.
Thank you to the Christchurch Cathedral and the Venerable Nick Mountfort for conducting this service for us today.
It is indeed heartening to see citizens of Christchurch arriving in great numbers for the Centenary Year ANZAC Commemorations.
It was an opportunity to remember and reflect on the value of the freedom the ANZACs fought for and the price that was paid.
Let us join together in remembrance – lest we forget.
It is 100 years since the landings at Gallipoli that led Australia and New Zealand to commemorate what we now know as ANZC Day. ANZAC Day was originally a day when the men who had served in the first World War came together to have a drink with old comrades, and I would say to remember those who did not come back, but they remembered them every day such was the impact on those young men – and they were young.
Australians and New Zealanders went to Gallipoli as British subjects – Australian and New Zealand citizenship did not exist until 1949 – so it is appropriate we sing our other National Anthem today – it was for King and Country that they served.
It was great to hear the Australian National Anthem played today and I was delighted to hear at the RSA afterwards that this is to become a feature of future dawn services.
ANZAC today though means much more to us and in many ways defines the nationhood of our two countries – our national identity is connected today in a special way.
The words that inspire us today are:
All of these values that we aspire to live up to in our own lives and to inspire the generations of children, none of whom is a direct descendent of the young men who did not return.
I often make the point that it is not only their lives who were lost – the branch in the family tree that did not grow represents thousands more who were never even conceived.
This service is an opportunity for our community to come together to reflect on the sacrifices of our armed services, past and present, in times of peace and conflict. And we also re-commit ourselves today to the peaceful resolution of conflict.
The significance of this anniversary was very clear to me when I attended the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Cranmer Square this morning.
Every year, attendance grows. Generations of families came together today in huge numbers – more than double last year's attendance - and this has been repeated throughout the country.
I take this as confirmation that the lessons and indeed the legacy of the ANZACs are safe and secure and that our young New Zealanders will embrace and continue this tradition.
There are 632 crosses standing in Cranmer Square today representing the Canterbury men and women who died in 1915.
As I reflect on how the city came together, to aid one another, after the earthquakes, I see demonstrated the same values that these 632 men and women embodied – sacrifice, compassion, all beyond the call of duty.
We have followed in our own way the great example of the ANZACs.
Today we do not just commemorate the tragic loss of life, but also the spirit that was born 100 years ago.
That ANZAC spirit was alive and well today. The bond between two nations, Australia and New Zealand, forged on a distant battlefield 100 years ago was characterised by courage, unity, self-sacrifice and loyalty.
As I said this morning we do not glorify war today; we commemorate the lives who were lost, we commit to the peaceful resolution of conflict and we honour the values we fought for.
This week I stood alongside representatives of the New Zealand, Australian, Turkish and British governments as we planted the Gallipoli Pine alongside the Gallipoli Oak in Remembrance Park – a true symbol of the freedom they fought for.