Former HMNZS Toroa commanding officer Lieutenant-commander (retired) Rob Tomlinson has big shoes to fill as he takes over the role of Anzac Day events convener.
For the past 20 years, the job has been in the safe hands of current Dunedin RSA president Lox Kellas, including four years of intense World War 1 centenary commemorations.
“This is my first time in the hot seat, which is quite a challenge, but I have been fortunate to have help from Lox and the RSA,” Mr Tomlinson said.
This year’s Anzac Day Dawn Service at the cenotaph in Queens Gardens, and other Anzac Day services on April 25, will be held as New Zealand remains on high alert in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15.
It will mean a visible police presence at commemorations, in keeping with all major public events at present.
In Auckland, the number of Anzac Day services will be reduced to 26 from last year’s 84, so police can “adequately resource” each one.
In Dunedin and Otago, Anzac Day events will go ahead as normal.
The dawn service will be held at 6.30pm, the posy-laying service at Anderson’s Bay Cemetery at 9.30am, the service at Montecillo Veterans Home at 11am and the University of Otago service at 1.30pm.
Parades and services will also be held in Mosgiel, Green Island, Green Park Cemetery, Port Chalmers, Brighton, Portobello, Macandrew Bay and Waitati, among other places.
Mr Tomlinson may be new to the role of Anzac Day events convener, but he has a history with the NZ Naval Reserve, through HMNZS Toroa, dating back 25 years.
An engineer in civilian life, Mr Tomlinson was HMNZS Toroa commanding officer from 2012 to 2017, before retiring from the reserve.
Mr Tomlinson said the format for the dawn service on April 25 would remain the same as in previous years, and he hoped for a strong turnout.
“It will be interesting to see how things go, in the wake of the World War 1 commemorations.
“I’m still hoping for up to 10,000 people, though.”
New Zealand Joint Forces Commander Rear-admiral Jim Gilmore will be keynote speaker at the service. The official party includes representatives of the Australian and British High Commissions, NZ Government representative Dr David Clark and representatives of the Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council.
The RSA Choir and Kaikorai Metropolitan Brass will provide music and readings will be given by Kavanagh College pupils.
Before the dawn service, veterans, uniformed forces personnel and families will form up behind the parade marshall at 6.15am, ready to march to Queens Gardens.
DCC event co-ordinator Marilyn Anderson said the state highways on either side of Queens Gardens would be subject to detours from 4am on April 25.