Regional leaders told those at Te Awamutu’s Anzac Day civic ceremony to value and protect the freedoms for which the Anzacs fought and died.
In his address to the hundreds attending the mid-morning commemoration, Waipā District Mayor Jim Mylchreest said you had only to watch televised newscasts of the Ukrainian conflict to witness the horrors of war. He praised the courage of the Ukrainian people and said their President Volodymyr Zelensky would be remembered alongside the likes of Nelson Mandela.
“It is critical we keep these commemorative services going and that people keep turning out in these numbers. I am quoting President Zelensky’s recent statement, “peace matters, freedom matters, people matter”. We all need to take stock of how well off we are in New Zealand.”
Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger also referenced Ukraine in her address. She said we have a responsibility to ensure that the freedoms that came at the cost of so many Anzacs’ lives are not lost today.
“What is going on in Ukraine is a major battle for freedom. We are lucky in New Zealand… while some of our freedoms have been tested through the pandemic, that is just a short-term loss,” she said. “It is hard to understand why we have not got on top of our hunger for power, which is so detrimental to our world.”
Te Awamutu RSA president Peter Watson commented on the good turn-out and on how united the crowd was in singing the national anthem. He urged people to continue to sing it “with pride and as one nation”.
One of the four head students at Te Awamutu College, Marnie Gielen, spoke poignantly about her soldier ancestor and said that without the efforts of the Anzacs, we could not enjoy the educational and job opportunities New Zealand offers today.