Good turnout expected for dawn service

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As World War 1 centenary commemorations continue, final preparations are falling into place for the giant Anzac Day dawn service at the Cenotaph in Dunedin.

Dunedin Returned and Services Association president Lox Kellas looking forward to another strong turnout of Dunedin people at the service on April 25.

“Depending on the weather, we are expecting up to 10,000 people to come along to the service,” Mr Kellas said.

“And there will be many more attending the other services and events being held throughout the day.”

Numbers attending the dawn service peaked at more than 20,000 in 2015, to mark the centenary of Gallipoli.

This year marks the centenary of the darkest day in New Zealand’s military history – the disastrous battle of Passchendaele on October 12, 1917.

On that day, 845 New Zealanders lost their lives, and the total number of casualties (killed, wounded, and missing) was 2740.

The Anzac Day dawn service will follow a traditional format, beginning at 6.30am with the marching on of veterans, the raising of the flags, a 25-pounder gun salute, all followed by national anthems and hymns.

Representatives of the New Zealand, Australian, and British governments will attend the service, along with representatives of the armed services, Dunedin City Council, the Dunedin and regional RSA, the Dunedin RSA Choir and Kaikorai Metropolitan Brass band.

The service will be led by retired Defence Force chaplain the Rev Dr Tony Martin, and guest speaker will be Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, RNZAF, the Deputy Commander of New Zealand’s Joint Forces.

The lessons will be read by King’s High School head boy Malachi Buschl and Queen’s High School head girl Louise Nicolson.

“Putting the dawn service together is a major undertaking for a lot of people, and we are grateful for their support,” Mr Kellas said.

Dunedin RSA Welfare Trust chairman Paul Galloway MNZM said Anzac Day and its associated events, including Poppy Day, helped to raise awareness and support among the community.

The trust was working to make contact with the growing number of modern veterans who had served in place such as East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq, in order to offer them ongoing support, he said.

“From the point of view of the welfare trust, we are keen to build a relationship with veterans early so we can be there if they need us,” he said.