Your Excellencies the Governor General and Mrs Jeffery. The Acting Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable John Anderson. My Diplomatic Colleagues. Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls.
Anzac Day is the day when the people of Australia and New Zealand remember their dead, fallen in war.
It’s the anniversary of the day in 1915 when soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the beaches of Gallipoli.
In just a few hours time, the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand will be taking part in the Dawn Service at Anzac Cove, together with veterans and thousands of young New Zealanders and Australians, to commemorate that day 90 years ago when the Anzac legend was born.
As we are gathered in this beautiful setting, with Australia’s magnificent War Memorial looking down on us, we know that in even the smallest towns around New Zealand and Australia people are gathering at their own war memorials to remember their dead – around memorials which often bear a list of names so pathetically disproportionate to the size of those communities.
We can but try to imagine the scene at Gallipoli on this day 90 years ago. Australia ’s young soldiers went ashore first. Late in the morning the New Zealanders landed to support their Australian comrades. The Australians had already suffered terrible casualties.
The New Zealand soldiers quickly joined the desperate battle to capture and defend the heights around Anzac Cove. Chaos was everywhere, soldiers separated from their units, units separated from their commanders.
As one young New Zealand soldier described the scene: