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Governor-General’s speech for the Dawn Service at Anzac Cove

The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO
25 APRIL 2018


Tēnā tātau katoa
Tēnā Tātau o te Moana nui a Kiwa
He tapu to te roimata
He tohu whaimana
He kaikawe kōrero
Mō te haukere o te pouri
Mō te hangu o te Aroha.

Greetings all
Greetings to us of the South Pacific
There is sacredness in tears
They are marks of power
They are the messengers of overwhelming grief
And unspeakable love

Sir Alan Duncan, United Kingdom Minister of State for Europe and the Americas; Hon Peter Dutton, Australian Minister for Home Affairs; [Turkish Minister TBC]; senior military representatives, Canakkale authorities, Ambassadors, Defence Attaches, other diplomatic representatives, ladies and gentlemen.

Today, as we gather to remember the fateful events that occurred on this beach-head and the hills beyond, 103 years ago, we can reflect on the optimism of the commander of the New Zealand and Australian Division, Major-General Sir Alexander Godley, who wrote that “only bullets” could make his division “better”.

By “better”, he meant that only combat experience would make his force more effective.

As it happened, the inexperience of the Anzacs, and of their commanders in particular, was brutally exposed in the opening hours and days of the disastrous battle that followed.

Combat experience, in this instance, came at a fearful cost.

The New Zealand government fully expected there to be heavy losses and was prepared to reinforce the New Zealand Expeditionary Force as soon as it was committed to battle.

The Minister of Defence had told Godley:

“I am quite sure that you will all do what New Zealand expects of you, and I sincerely hope that Divine Providence will protect you all. There must be losses, and we have to face them.”

However, the government was shocked by the sheer magnitude of what was referred to as the ‘butcher’s bill’.

The South African War of 1899 to1902 had claimed the lives of more than 200 New Zealanders. That total was eclipsed within days at Gallipoli.

Such were the losses, that during the course of the campaign, the New Zealand units engaged here had to be reinforced by more than 100 percent of their original strength.

Australian units experienced a similar attrition.

Many men were at Gallipoli for only a short period before they were killed or wounded. Rations were inadequate and frequently inedible, and failed to provide nourishment. Disease was rife, and many soldiers became so sick that they had to be evacuated. Others endured months of hardship that marked them for life.
To survive at the Anzac beachhead, it was not enough for soldiers to have an indomitable spirit – they also needed a good measure of luck.

In 2015, people in New Zealand and Australia were stunned by the long casualty lists in the newspapers. Families and communities felt the shock and grief of lives cut short – of hopes, dreams and aspirations that would never be fulfilled.

Today, as we remember the suffering and heroism of our forebears on this small stretch of land, we also reflect on the lessons we learned from our history.
The appalling bloodshed of the First World War led to concerted efforts to pursue and secure world peace. As it happened, these efforts were to fail in 1939, and nations again experienced the horrors of global conflict.

Following the Second World War, an international system was established to forestall another such recurrence.

Although imperfect, this system has remained the best mechanism we have to avoid the terrible bloodshed and loss of life experienced by our soldiers in two World Wars.

Today, as we honour our forebears and their service to their country, we affirm our commitment to work together to achieve and maintain collective security and peace.

Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou
We will remember them

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