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Coleman: Dawn service - Anzac Commemorative Site - Gallipoli

Jonathan Coleman

25 April, 2013

Dawn service - Anzac Commemorative Site - Gallipoli

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga karanga maha e huihui nei

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

There is no more poignant and evocative place for any New Zealander to be present than at dawn on Anzac day, on the Gallipoli peninsula.

It’s a place you’ve never been to before, but at the same time you’ve grown up with. It’s a place of sadness, but a place that makes you very proud. It’s a place which for New Zealanders distils and lays clear all the qualities which we hold dear in our national character.

It’s an honour and a huge responsibility to speak on behalf of the Government, and the people of New Zealand, on the hallowed ground of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

At dawn on the 25th of April 98 years ago, soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps came ashore here.

These landings would mark the start of a brutal and tragic campaign, which would stretch over eight long months.

The soldiers from both sides who fought at Gallipoli, demonstrated extraordinary courage and fortitude in the face of constant lethal force played out against a backdrop of extreme hardship.

The Anzacs would remain on the peninsula, doggedly for eight months, paying a terrible price. Of the eight and a half thousand New Zealanders who landed at Gallipoli, nearly one in three were killed. The long lists of names etched on the memorials that stand in every town and city in New Zealand, bear testimony to the deep scars the Great War inflicted on our society.

Overall, the human cost of the Gallipoli campaign was staggering. There were over half a million casualties from all nations, including 130,000 killed, during those eight months. We remember the soldiers from the many other countries who fought bravely on both sides here and now lie together, beside their Anzac and Turkish brethren.

For New Zealand, the events at Gallipoli would have a profound influence in shaping our national consciousness. Gallipoli will ever run as a crucial strand in the New Zealand story; it’s the touchstone we turn to in times of national stress, the Anzac tradition a deep source of inspiration.

I acknowledge the thousands of Kiwis and Aussies who have travelled huge distances to be present at this service. You honour our Anzac heritage and your presence bears testament to what Gallipoli means to our two nations.

Because as Australian and New Zealand troops clung desperately to this small peninsula far from home, a deep, enduring friendship was forged, between our countries.

There is no closer relationship between two nations than that between New Zealand and Australia. The shared experience of Gallipoli will forever be its cornerstone.

In the aftermath of the Gallipoli, another close friendship – this time between former foes – also emerged.

What began as a profound respect between enemies on the battlefield, evolved into a close, warm relationship between New Zealand and Turkey.

It was the immortal words of forgiveness and reconciliation spoken by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk that remain at the heart of the strong bond that exists between our countries today.

I would like to extend our very sincere thanks to our Turkish hosts on behalf of the Government and people of New Zealand for their gracious hospitality over many, many years.

The Turkish people suffered terrible casualties defending their homeland. Over 87,000 sons of Turkey are known to have fallen here.

And yet we are welcomed back here every year, with friendship and warmth, to pay our respects to the fallen.

Thank you for making these commemorations possible, and for preserving these sites, which are sacred to us all.

Today we also remember those servicemen and women who have given their lives for our countries in other conflicts far from home, including, most recently, Afghanistan.

We pay tribute to the service personnel around the world who continue to serve us proudly, and their families, who also bear the cost of their commitment. The men and women of the New Zealand Defence Force are worthy inheritors of the Anzac tradition.

On the Gallipoli peninsula, ordinary Kiwis were called upon to make an extraordinary contribution at a time of ultimate trial. We honour their sacrifice by being ever mindful that conflict must be the last resort, not the first; that freedoms are hard won; and that generations of Anzacs have spilt blood so that we might live in peace and prosperity today.

Lest we forget.


ENDS

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