Today is Anzac Day, a public holiday since 1921, that marks the landings at Gallipoli as an acknowledgement of the sacrifice of all those New Zealanders who have died in warfare, and the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.
Over time there have been changes in the way that Anzac Day has been commemorated, reflecting the changing features and concerns of our society. During the Second World War, for example, there was increased interest and a heightened sense of the relevance of Anzac Day; in the 1960s and decades following it was from time to time used as a platform for anti-war and other social protest.
Today, at a time when it seems New Zealanders are increasingly keen to assert and celebrate a unique identity, Anzac Day is viewed as a central marker of our New Zealand’s nationhood. It promotes a sense of unity, perhaps more effectively than any other day on the national calendar. People whose politics, beliefs and aspirations are widely different can nevertheless share a genuine sorrow at the loss of so many lives in war, and a real respect for those who have endured warfare on behalf of the country we live in.
There was a dawn ceremony followed up church services and parades. For more information: www.anzac.govt.nz