Marlborough Express - Anzac: Important to remember

Columns
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This week marks the centennial of the landings in Turkey and leaders of New Zealand, Australia and Turkey will join thousands of people at Anzac Cove and Chunuk Bair to remember those who travelled from the other side of the globe to serve King and Country.

Over recent years the numbers attending Anzac Day dawn parades and other ceremonies have grown considerably and I am sure that this weekend will see record numbers at cenotaphs and war memorials in every town and city around the country.
I understand that per head of population, the loss of life by New Zealanders in World War I was the highest of any country in the world. This loss, coupled with even greater deaths from the influenza epidemic that followed the war, had a devastating impact on our young country.

Entire communities lost a generation of menfolk. The list of names of those who were lost from communities like Havelock, Picton, Seddon and Ward makes us realise that there would be very few, if any, families unaffected by the war.

In the last few weeks I have been aware of the very special ways people in the Kaikoura electorate have chosen to recognise the sacrifice young men and women, Pakeha and Maori, made in the "Great War".

At the Harwarden A&P Show, the community re-staged the departure of the young men of the Amuri Mounted Rifle Brigade.

These men travelled on horseback to Lyttleton to join other Canterbury Mounted Rifle Troopers and, as part of the NZEF, went on to serve in Gallipoli, the Middle East and in the trenches in France.

Each participant in the re-enactment represented a local family member who had seen service in the Great War.

Here at the top of the electorate, historian John Orchard, from the Marlborough Museum, has made history come alive with hands-on lessons for schools about the impact of the war on Marlborough and what it was like at Gallipoli and the Western Front.

The support given by the community to Marlborough brass bandsman Denis Teeling as he has played the Last Post on the 100 days leading up to the centennial on April 25 has been truly inspiring and has gained nationwide media attention.

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I also want to congratulate the Marlborough Repertory Society and the Marlborough District Brass Band for their commemorative project King and Country. This, too, brings home the impact of the war on our community, with moving photographs of young men who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the battlefields of Europe.

It has been said that the events of those years were instrumental in defining our national character and identity.

My generation has been lucky enough not to have faced anything like war on the scale of the two world wars and the Cold War conflicts that followed.

We owe it to those who did serve our nation to acknowledge their service this weekend.

Lest we forget.