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The growing legend of the Anzacs

As New Zealand grows so does the strong sense of nationhood that surrounds Anzac Day. The memories of our fallen soldiers will be kept alive for even longer, judging by the ever-increasing number of people attending Anzac Day services.

Every year at the Anzac commemorative service and parade in Auckland Domain, I feel a strong sense of unity as thousands of Kiwis from all walks of life and of all ages stand quietly together to remember. This year even more Asian people took part in commemorations than in other years.

The sea of faces at the Auckland service demonstrated just how much our country has changed since our soldiers left home more than 90 years ago. Anzac Day is something that we can all identify with. It is a sacred day when we reflect on our country’s shared history - the day cuts across cultural and religious barriers.

Anzac is more than a name, it is a legend, and the feelings echoed around the world by Kiwis at services from Australia to New York and Asia confirms that its significance is increasing.

During the debate about whether shops should be allowed to open on public holidays, the sanctity of Anzac Day was never questioned. I sat on the select committee that looked at the issue, and it was never suggested that shops should open their doors on Anzac Day morning.

It’s that kind of attitude that will ensure our history continues to enjoy a resurgence, and I think all New Zealanders need to take responsibility for our heritage. I also believe it’s important that all citizenship applicants should complete an educational programme about New Zealand history and values. It was disappointing that the Government voted down my suggestion during the Citizenship Amendment Bill debate.

Our national identity will keep evolving as we do, and it’s encouraging to see that younger generations are keeping the history of our war veterans alive. It was a wonderful tribute to see young children wearing their grandfathers’ and great-grandfathers’ medals.

Right now we have defence personnel stationed overseas who are contributing to the international effort. We owe it to the soldiers who died 90 years ago, and to all those who have contributed to our nation’s defence since, to reflect on the contradictions, the costs, and the lessons of war.

Dining curfew for Ponsonby a draconian idea

Ponsonby’s famous cafe strip could be under threat if Auckland City Council’s plans to shut down outdoor dining at 10 pm get the green light.

Tourists and locals alike enjoy the atmosphere that outdoor dining along Ponsonby Road offers, and any moves to curb it would be disastrous for Auckland City. Cafe owners estimate that a 10 pm curfew could force more than half of the restaurants in the area to close down, taking millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs out of Ponsonby – not to mention the character and atmosphere the cafes create.

Imagine the surprise that tourists from overseas, and outside Auckland, would get if they found cafes closing down their outdoor dining at an early 10 pm? It’s hardly reflective of the world-class destination that we all know the city is.

Apparently Auckland City Council first introduced the idea because of the smoke-free legislation – they say they're worried about noise and the safety risks associated with people drinking and smoking outside.

It’s time for Auckland City Council to get real. Restaurants along the cafe strip have to ensure that their tables don’t go over their licensed area, along with other requirements.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of New Zealand – in Auckland alone they make up 83% of all businesses. Ponsonby cafe owners should be able to run their businesses as they need to – they don’t need more regulations or further displays of paternalistic attitudes.

What do you think about the proposed 10 pm curfew? Do you think it’s fair, and what effect do you think it could have on our much-loved Ponsonby?

Email me: pansy.wong@national.org.nz

What’s your petrol tax for?

The chances are that while you’ve been stuck in traffic, you’ve seen the new billboard by spaghetti junction.

National Party Leader Don Brash unveiled it last Friday. It clearly spells out that a National-led Government would spend road taxes on roads, and not on the types of projects Labour has poured money into: hip-hop tours, twilight golf and welfare bribes.

National will ensure that all revenue generated from petrol taxes will go back into the roads; only then will Auckland start moving again.

Pansy Wong

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