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Speaker Speech to Dawn Service ANZAC Cove

HON MARGARET WILSON

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
NEW ZEALAND

Speech to Dawn Service
ANZAC Cove
Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey

Tuesday 25 April 2006


5.30am, Tuesday 25 April 2006
(2.30pm, Tuesday 25 April 2006, NZT)

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga tangata o nga hau e wha, e huihui nei
(To the authorities, languages and people from the four winds assembled here)

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. Merhaba and greetings
(Greetings, greetings and greetings to you all, merhaba)

Few New Zealand families have not been touched by loss of life, or injury in wars like that here at Gallipoli - a place so remote that many would not have heard of it before the shells rained down on a generation of young men seeking adventure in a far off land. Gallipoli scarred our hearts and caused immense grief.

For a country of its size – just over 1 million in 1914 – New Zealand’s contribution to World War 1 was massive.

Nearly 20 per cent of the eligible manpower was recruited. One hundred thousand men were sent overseas – of those 18,000 were killed and more than 41,000 wounded. Of the British countries, only the UK’s proportion was higher.

In cities, towns and villages across the country, war memorials went up to list those killed. Some small communities lost an entire generation of young men, some families all their sons. And we know Turkish families and communities also suffered greatly.

As one historian noted, the next generation did not need to be told that the angel of death had passed over the land: they had heard the beating of its wings.

ANZAC Day, marking the anniversary of that first Australian and New Zealand landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula at dawn 91 years ago today, was the occasion that both countries chose to commemorate all their dead from the war – and subsequently all wars.

New Zealand and Australian communities all over the world will be gathering on this day.

100 years ago, New Zealanders knew little of Turkey and Turkey knew little about New Zealand.

Then came what was arguably the most traumatic event in the history of my country. The ANZACs were transported to Lemnos in the Aegean, and from there to Gallipoli for a major assault on the Dardanelles, the Hellespont of the ancient world.

This operation was designed to open the strait to the British and French navies to allow an attack on Istanbul and relieve Turkish military pressure on Russia.

From the outset, the ANZAC part of the Gallipoli landings went terribly wrong. While British troops landed at Cape Helles, the ANZACs began landing where the terrain was much less forbidding. The Australians went ashore first, followed later in the morning by the New Zealanders, at a place just metres from where we are standing and which we now know as ANZAC Cove.

As the ANZACs clambered up these steep slopes above the cove and moved inland, they encountered troops of the Turkish Army’s 19th Division commanded by Mustafa Kemal Bey, later known as Kemal Ataturk, founder and father of the post-war Turkish Republic.

The combination of rugged terrain and determined defenders proved insurmountable. The Australians and New Zealanders were halted and driven back. Their losses were high – one in five of the 3,000 New Zealanders who landed that day became casualties.

By the end of the day the ANZACs were hemmed into a tiny area. As the weeks went by, conditions deteriorated until they were as close to hell as men could conceive.

The cost to New Zealand was 2721 dead and 4752 wounded out of a total of 8450 men – a staggering 88 per cent. The remains of those killed were left here; two-thirds were either never found or remained unidentified.

After the battle the leadership, compassion and generosity articulated by Ataturk to what were once the enemy has inspired three generations of New Zealanders and Turkish. It has sparked the pilgrimage by thousands of New Zealanders and Australians, young and old, who are here today as in previous years to honour our Gallipoli dead.

More and more Turkish make the trip to New Zealand and Australia to renew acquaintances and see for themselves the land where those they saw as invaders came from.

The relationship between NZ and Turkey runs deeper than honouring our dead, but there is little doubt in my mind that the foundations for an enduring relationship were laid here on this peninsula where so many died.

As we gather today, it is instructive to let our minds drift back to those dreadful scenes as wartime enemies faced each other.

Who would have thought that we could put that behind us and embrace one another in friendship, respect and admiration. This must provide some hope for the modern day peacekeepers of our three nations and gives the lie to the claim by some that ‘once an enemy, always an enemy’.

Gallipoli had a seminal effect on the development of our character as a people. It is impossible for any one of us to view these events without pride and painful sympathy.

Today we pray that our nation, our soldiers and our future generations will be spared the terrible fate of those New Zealanders who died for us and for our country. It is a day when we think of and thank a new generation of young men and women who serve our country around the world. We remember not only those who died, but also their friends and comrades, their families, their sons and daughters, their mothers and fathers.

And today we renew our commitment to protecting and promoting peace at home and in those places around the world where we work to help achieve that elusive dream.

As the successors and descendants of the soldiers who fought here, it is our responsibility and privilege to reflect on their service and sacrifice.

We, who benefit from their selfless acts of courage in a bitter, bloody and tragic campaign, will not forget their sacrifice.

We will remember them.


Nō reira, ki a koutou kei konei, kei te wā kainga hoki
(And so to you here and at home as well)

tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā ano tātou koutou
(Greetings, greetings and greetings to us all once again)

Teşekkür ederim and thank you very much.

ENDS

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