“Me haehaetia koia te rau i peke i te matangi?

Should we cut the leaf withered by the wind?

This was said by Pomare in the early 1820s when he learned that Hongi Hika had returned to Te Totara pa and defeated its people, although peace had previously been declared between Ngapuhi and Ngati Maru.

She reminds us of the many challenges faced by peacemakers.

Atamarie and koutou.

I thank the Honorable Andrew Little, representing the government

His Excellency Hardiner Sidhu, High Commissioner for Australia

His Excellency Omur Unsay, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey

His Excellency Leasi Papali’i Tommy Scanlan, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps

Members of the diplomatic corps

Nicola Willis, representing the opposition

Air Marshal Kevin Short, Chief of Defense Forces

His Honor Andy Foster, Mayor of Wellington

Andrew Bridgeman, Secretary of Defense

Bernadette Cavanagh, Director General, Ministry of Culture and Heritage

Fiona Cassidy, acting president of the National War Memorial Advisory Council

BJ Clark, President, Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association

Taranaki Whanui

and veterans

It is a great honor to join you today here at Pukeahu, our National War Memorial Park. It is a special place for all New Zealanders – where we can reflect on how our nation has experienced conflict and how it has been shaped by these experiences over time.

Here we are surrounded by the memorials of overseas nations – the red sandstone of Australia; the conch of Te Reo Hotunui o Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the Pacific Islands; and the United Kingdom’s Royal Oak intertwined with a Pōhutukawa.

These memorials remind us of our shared experiences of war, military conflict and peacekeeping.

On Anzac Day, we take time as a nation to stop and reflect on these experiences.

We pay tribute to the thousands of New Zealanders who have served their country in times of war and conflict – and we pay our deepest respects to those who have lost their lives doing so.

As we recognize the many sacrifices made throughout our history, we must be mindful of the need to embrace and cherish veterans of more recent conflicts.

By acknowledging their contributions and hearing their stories, we can better understand the full impact of service on their lives and the lives of their families.

This year I will have the privilege of hosting the investiture of Tā Robert ‘Bom’ Gillies, who will be knighted for his services to Maori and war commemoration.

Bom is the last surviving member of the 28th Maori Battalion. He enlisted in 1943 at the age of 17 and served in Italy, including at the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Generations have learned much from veterans like Bom about the meaning of service, sacrifice and true generosity of spirit.

Behind me is the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior – representing all New Zealanders who have not made the return journey after serving their country overseas.

Today, like all Anzac Days, the tomb will be laden with poppies. A hundred years ago, New Zealanders first wore the now familiar red poppy – a symbol of remembrance of the war – at Anzac Day services across the country.

At the time, other nations timed their veterans’ appeals to coincide with Armistice Day in November, but shipping delays meant that the first day of the Returned Soldiers’ Association Poppy New Zealand had taken place just before Anzac Day – and since.

In the 1920s, New Zealand was badly affected by the impacts of the First World War and huge efforts were underway to reintegrate veterans.

Although the majority of the sick and wounded were released from the military hospital system and returned to civilian life, it was becoming increasingly clear that the effects of war would be lifelong for veterans – and for their families who took care of them.

Besides the visible scars and long-term physical disabilities, there were many more private battles with mental health, at a time when such things were rarely discussed.

And even though the war was over, men continued to die before their time from war-related injuries and illnesses.

As I said at the dawn service this morning, the impacts of the First World War and subsequent conflicts on New Zealand did not lessen once the fighting stopped.

War has shaped our society in many ways: the loss of loved ones, friends or colleagues; the struggles of those who have changed and are marked by their experiences; lasting effects on labor and the economy; and the contribution of refugee communities.

Today, when New Zealanders say ‘We will remember them’ at an Anzac Day service, some of us will remember soldiers from the First World War. Others may remember family members who served in later conflicts.

And for some, Anzac Day will bring to mind friends or whānau involved in peacekeeping missions and other overseas deployments.

On Anzac Day, our thoughts also go out to those caught in the midst of the current conflicts around the world.

We see their anguish over the loss of loved ones, homes and livelihoods. We know that the repercussions of these events will be felt for generations.

In what may seem like an unsettling and unsettling time, we must strive to anchor ourselves to our sense of shared humanity – to those qualities that connect and bind us, above all.

We draw our strength from the legacy of our veterans and military personnel who embody the Anzac spirit of courage, compassion and camaraderie.

We are grateful for the efforts of those who have dedicated their lives to resolving conflicts, bridging divisions and finding new paths to peace, justice and harmony.

And we decide to be inspired by their example: to work together in the hope of a better future for all.

Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou – we will remember them.

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