Speaker Speech At NZ Service Chunuk Bair
HON MARGARET WILSON
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
Speech to New Zealand
Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey
Tuesday 25 April 2006
12.30pm, Tuesday 25 April 2006
(9.30pm, Tuesday 25 April 2006, NZT)
E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga tangata o nga
hau e wha, e huihui nei i Conk Bayiri
(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)
ANZAC Day is a day for reflection and remembrance. It is also a day for committing ourselves to working for a world where differences between nations can be resolved without resort to war. In this way we can best honour and pay tribute to the fallen and to all those who served.
It is also a day when we think of and thank a new generation of young men and women who serve our country around the world. We pay tribute to their families and friends who eagerly await their return.
Back home the ANZAC Day ritual will be played out in towns and cities throughout the country. There will be Dawn parades, current and former servicemen will march in the early morning darkness, members of the wider community will join them, there will be a short service, prayers, hymns and a dedication concluding with the final verse of Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen. The Last Post will be played, followed by a minute’s silence. Participants will disperse, in silence, with the words of that dedication still suspended in the early morning air. Many will gather at their local RSA.
Today, at Chunuk Bair, thousands of you have chosen to make a pilgrimage to honour those who served and died here, paying the ultimate sacrifice.
Gallipoli is perhaps our most enduring legend. A bitter, bloody and tragic campaign. Yet as we look around today, we can see what Christopher Pugsley was referring to when he wrote of the hills of Gallipoli conjuring up the images of home – the hills of Paekakariki or the scree slopes of inland Canterbury.
His book Gallipoli – the New Zealand Story, records the stories of many of our servicemen at Gallipoli and makes some stark contrasts – the photograph of the confident, cocky and smiling Rawene boys enlisting for war with the caption ‘No one ever thought of not coming back’ contrasting with an official portrait of Corporal Cyril Bassett, VC – and the words ‘All my mates ever got were wooden crosses’.
While we like to think of Gallipoli as a very Australasian event, what happened here became deeply etched in the collective memory of all countries whose soldiers fought at Gallipoli.
And as incongruous as it would have seemed in 1915, the tragic events of Gallipoli laid the basis for an enduring relationship between the Turkish and the Kiwi.
Who can forget the leadership, the compassion and the courage of the man whose statue overlooks us here - Kemal Ataturk, founder and father of the post-war Turkish Republic, who reassured the mothers of our men left lying side-by-side, dead in this distant land, that they would be cared for alongside their own dead sons?
Compassion and reconciliation such as this has sparked the pilgrimage by thousands of Kiwis, young and old, who are here today as in previous years to honour our Gallipoli dead.
It is not one-way. More and more Turkish make the trip to New Zealand to renew acquaintances and see for themselves the country where the New Zealanders hailed from.
It is unfair to single out any one of those heroes, but I would be negligent if I did not mention the exploits of William George Malone, best known as the distinguished Commanding Officer of the Wellington Infantry Battalion at Gallipoli. He led the battalion when it seized Chunuk Bair and he and his men held it all day against ferocious attacks from Turkish troops. When they were relieved by other NZ units at the end of that day, just 70 of his 760 men remained. William Malone lay here among the dead. His life and his bravery were commemorated last year with the unveiling of a plaque in Parliament House, Wellington.
As we gather today, it is instructive to let our minds drift back to those dreadful scenes as wartime enemies faced each other sometimes only metres apart, in a state of increasing discomfort. As historian Ian McGibbon has written, searing heat and swarming flies tormented men on both sides, conditions exacerbated by water shortages. Disease, especially dysentery, flourished in the unsanitary conditions among men already debilitated by weeks of inadequate food. These physical problems were compounded by the psychological pressures stemming from the consciousness that no place in the tiny perimeter was safe from artillery fire.
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; many, including Colonel Malone, were never found. Others could not be identified.
Today we put that behind us and embrace one another in friendship, respect and admiration. This must provide some hope for men and women engaged in today’s wars and gives lie to those who say ‘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.
We salute the courage, determination and commitment of those who fought for their country.
The men from many nations who endured so much on these hills and beaches left an enduring legacy.
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)
and thank you very much.