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Goff Speech Anzac Dawn Service At Gallopoli

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Speech Notes

25th April 2001

(2.30pm NZ time Wednesday 25th April 2001)

Nga mate haere, haere, haere
Tatou te hunga ora tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

The dead, farewell, farewell, farewell
To us, the living greetings, greetings, greetings to us all

Sunday 25 April 1915 dawned a fine, sunny day. The first wave of Australian infantry who landed at this beach had to fight their way through scrub and gullies up to the ridges of the Sari Bair range. The New Zealand soldiers, waiting their turn on the transports, were unstinting in their praise of the Australian achievement: as a New Zealand sergeant wrote, there were “no orders, no proper military ‘team work’, no instructions, just absolute heroism”.

It was late morning when the first New Zealanders began to land, into a scene of “upturned boats, gear of all description, and dead men littering the beach”. A private with the Canterbury infantry wrote in his diary that “the noise is one continuous roar of rifle and shellfire mingled with the cries of the wounded and the dying”.

As the day advanced, troops from the Auckland and Canterbury battalions were committed to reinforce the Australians on the heights. It was a soldiers’ battle. New Zealand and Australian units were inextricably mixed. The Anzac tradition was born that afternoon, as the New Zealanders and the Australians fought side by side to repel increasing Turkish counter-attacks.

Most of the 600 New Zealand casualties on 25 April were around the hill known as Baby 700. By the end of the day, that advanced position had been lost, and the

Anzacs driven back to a defensive line. In 1919, after the War, the remains of a New Zealand soldier were found on the furthest slopes of Baby 700: from this point, it was possible to see the narrows, the objective of the campaign.

The New Zealanders would see the narrows again, in August, when they captured the strategic heights of Chunuk Bair. Then, for a brief moment, “the thin line of New Zealand men was holding wide the door to victory”.

It was not to be. Flesh and blood, determination and skill, could do no more. Heroism was not enough. The end came in December, when the expeditionary force was finally evacuated from the Gallipoli peninsula.

Of the 8,556 New Zealanders who fought in the campaign, 2,515 were killed in action, while another 206 died of disease and other causes, and 4,752 were wounded. There was scarcely a family in New Zealand without a loss.

Most nations commemorate their victories, not their defeats. What have we come here to commemorate today?

We commemorate courage. How ordinary New Zealanders - farmers, lawyers, miners, wharfies, bankers, fishermen, bushmen, railway workers - could endure suffering which went almost beyond enduring. How our soldiers faced death, rather than let their mates down.

At the same time, we salute the courage and tenacity of the Turkish soldiers, who fought so bravely in defence of their country. We remember the many soldiers from the British Empire and Commonwealth, and from France, who fell in the campaign.

We commemorate comradeship. It was in this place that the special bond between New Zealanders and Australians was first forged in the heat of battle. Today our soldiers are serving together in the cause of peace, in places like Timor and Bougainville.

We commemorate reconciliation. It was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the gallant Turkish commander, and later the founder of the Turkish Republic, who said that the fallen rest in the soil of a friendly country. His generous words were the foundation for the warm friendship which now exists between New Zealand and Turkey.

We commemorate our nationhood. Our soldiers came to Gallipoli in the service of the British Empire, but they left as New Zealanders. Out of that ordeal, New Zealanders first began to see themselves as a nation with its own identity.

We commemorate peace. The guns have long been silent here. We now stand on land dedicated by the Turkish Government as a monument to peace. Here, on a spot which was racked by war, it is the legacy of peace which remains.

Every Anzac Day, here at Gallipoli, at places throughout New Zealand, and wherever New Zealanders are gathered, we remember those who sacrificed their lives for our future. It is our responsibility to ensure that their sacrifice was not in vain.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa


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