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ANZAC DAY

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and its taua, or warrior party, have added a unique Kiwi spark to the military parade celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in London.

The 40-strong party was among 2000 military personnel taking part in the 3.2-kilometre march along The Birdcage and The Mall near Buckingham Palace on a cool and overcast Sunday.

It was led by six Māori warriors who, bearing traditional weapons and playing the role of kiore, or runner scouts, searched the left and right flanks of the main body.

It proved a hit with the London crowd, which had just witnessed the ceremonial best from the British Armed Forces.

Taua member, the Navy’s Petty Officer Te Teira Maxwell, of Te Arawa, said the crowd was relatively quiet until they saw the NZDF marchers with the kiore moving out from the rest of the contingent.

“Then a big roar went up. It was an awesome experience,” he said.

“I’m pretty proud to be involved in such a celebration, and to represent the NZDF and the wider community of Rotorua and iwi Māori,” he said.

Royal New Zealand Air Force Corporal Kumeroa Rimene, of Rangitane and Ngati Kahungunu, was a member of the matataua, or warrior party, repeating a similar role he played at Le Quesnoy commemorations in 2018.

The taua was followed by flag-bearer, the Army’s Second Lieutenant Elese Russell, who had the best view of the reaction.

“It was unreal. When the warriors broke off the crowd went crazy. It was a very special moment.

“The energy of the crowd was amazing. I felt New Zealand really stood out and when the warriors took the lead it was very special.”

Contingent commander, the Navy’s Commander Kerry Tutty, said it was a fantastic moment for the contingent as it represented the NZDF and New Zealand celebrating Her Majesty’s 70-year reign.

“Walking down The Mall and the first lot of warriors break off and the cheers just went up. I can imagine how fantastic this looked to the UK and the world.

“Another special moment was about two-thirds down The Mall and we heard ‘three cheers for the Commonwealth, hip hip hooray’. It was just so incredible.”

New Zealand military representatives have been attending royal jubilees since 1897, when a contingent was sent to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

 

ANZAC Day is one of the most important days in the New Zealand Calendar. It is a day for New Zealanders to commemorate those who fought in battle during the First World War, to mourn those who were lost, honour those who returned and acknowledge those who made sacrifices for our nation. Therefore, April 25th is ANZAC Day, a day for Kiwis to do exactly that.

This means that we are given a public holiday – a day off school and work to take a pause and recognise the importance of ANZAC Day with our friends and family. This often means attending the Dawn Service or the Morning Services that are held every year. Back in 2020, Covid-19 restrictions meant we were unable to congregate as we usually would for this important time. Instead, we were to remain in our bubbles and recognise ANZAC Day from afar.

It was a big deal to cancel Anzac Day events. The RSA’s decision to cancel public events on Anzac Day was the first time they had been cancelled since they were started in 1915. That’s over 100 years ago! However, while Anzac Day events were cancelled, it did not mean the tradition of remembering and commemorating veterans was too. In 2021 we were able to attend Dawn Service or Morning Service again. This year – who knows? Whatever the answer – the tradition of remembering and commemorating will live on.

You probably know already that schools around the country place a strong emphasis on Anzac Day. At my old school, it was a big deal – we wore poppies, and we were represented at the ANZAC Day Memorial Park Service by both students and staff. I know that other schools around the country encourage similar attendance from their students.

I believe we need to make sure the importance of ANZAC Day and what it stands for is not lost on us as the younger generation, whether we have the opportunity to be there in person or not. We should be the ones to keep the memory alive. Not only does this honour those before us, but it reminds us of the horrible things that can come from War and ensures we spend our whole lives avoiding another one beginning.

Lest we forget, in simple terms, means we will not forget. So come on Kiwi Kids, lest we forget.

Critical Thinking Challenges:

  1. Why is it important that youth, not just adults, attend ANZAC Day?
  2. What is the difference between remembering, commemorating and celebrating?  
  3. Do you believe it is still important ANZAC Day is celebrated when most of those who fought are not around today?

Practical Tasks:

  1. Ask a parent how much they paid their respects to those who fought in the war, this ANZAC Day and on ANZAC day when they were younger?
  2. Ask a grandparent about how their family’s life was affected by the wars? It may be more than you think.
  3. Research how ANZAC Day came to be and why it is still held today.    
  4. Research how ANZAC Day came to be and why it is still held today.    

ANZAC Day is one of the most important days on the New Zealand Calendar. It is a day for New Zealanders to commemorate those who fought in battle during the First World War, to mourn those who were lost, honour those who returned, and to acknowledge those who made sacrifices for our nation. It is a time to express sorrow, not to glorify war. Therefore, each year, April 25th is ANZAC Day, a public holiday for Kiwis to do exactly that.

Thousands turned out for the Dawn ANZAC Service, Pukeahu Memorial Park, Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday, April 25, 2015. Credit:SNPA / Ross Setford

So why was it, that as I stood at the Dawn Service in Dunedin at 6am last year, I was not as surrounded as I have felt in years in the past. Dunedin is a “Student-City” but for the first time since moving here, I could notice a difference. Why was it that I felt that no one really cared it was ANZAC Day, they just cared it was a day off work? I was faced with the troubling question, that as we get further and further from the memory of the Great War, are we forgetting the reason and purpose behind Anzac Day?

I had spoken with many of my friends – in their late teens and early twenties – about their plans for ANZAC Day this year and no one really knows. While it may be a bit early, even the plan to attend a Dawn Service Parade would be something. Are we forgetting that we are not meant to view this public holiday as a “day off”, but a day to commemorate those who sacrificed themselves in war.

Do we think that because the war happened years ago it doesn’t affect the world today? Is it because we do not personally remember the horror, sacrifice and death of war? Do we not have to make an effort to think about those who have given us the freedom we have today? Is it possible that in the near future ANZAC Day as we know it will become less relevant?

Schools around the country place a strong emphasis on teaching about Anzac Day. At my old school it was a big deal – we wore poppies and we were represented at ANZAC Day Memorial Park Service in Tauranga by both students and staff. I know that other schools around the country consider it to be an important date also. So how do we forget this importance so quickly after we leave? Is it the duty of the school, the memory of older staff members, or the actual choice to remember this day honourably?

It seems to me that today we are more interested in a day off work or school than the true meaning of being part of the ANZAC History, and that’s not a good change to society. I believe we need to make sure the importance of ANZAC Day and what it stands for is not lost on us as the younger generation. We should be the ones to keep the memory alive. Not only does this honour those before us, but it reminds us of the horrible things that can come from War and ensures we spend our whole lives avoiding another one beginning.

We have three weeks until ANZAC Day is here… Lest we forget, in simple terms, means we will not forget. So come on New Zealand, lest we forget.

Critical Thinking Challenges:

  1. Why is it important that youth, not just adults, attend ANZAC Day?
  2. What is the difference between remembering, commemorating and celebrating?  
  3. Do you believe it is still important ANZAC Day is celebrated when most of those who fought are not around today?

Practical Tasks:

  1. Ask a parent how much they paid their respects to those who fought in the war, this ANZAC Day and on ANZAC day when they were younger?
  2. Ask a grandparent about how their family’s life was affected by the wars? It may be more than you think.
  3. Research how ANZAC Day came to be and why it is still held today.    

Last week we ran a ANZAC Poster competition on the Kiwi Kids News website.

We received hundreds of entries. Below is a collection of some of the great artworks that were produced.

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the golden syrup. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 2 tbsp boiling water, then stir into the golden syrup and butter mixture.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter and golden syrup mixture. Stir gently to incorporate the dry ingredients.
  3. Put dessertspoonfuls of the mixture on to buttered baking sheets, about 2.5cm/1in apart to allow room for spreading. Bake in batches for 8-10 mins until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

By 1915 the Western Front was clearly deadlocked. Allied strategy was under scrutiny, with strong arguments mounted for an offensive through the Balkans or even a landing on Germany’s Baltic coast, instead of more costly attacks in France and Belgium.
These ideas were initially sidelined, but in early 1915 the Russians found themselves threatened by the Turks in the Caucasus and appealed for some relief. The British decided to mount a naval expedition to bombard and take the Gallipoli Peninsula on the western shore of the Dardanelles, with Constantinople as its objective. By capturing Constantinople, the British hoped to link up with the Russians, knock Turkey out of the war and possibly persuade the Balkan states to join the Allies.
The naval attack began on 19 February. Bad weather caused delays and the attack was abandoned after three battleships had been sunk and three others damaged. Military assistance was required, but by the time troops began to land on 25 April, the Turks had had ample time to prepare adequate fortifications and the defending armies were now six times larger than when the campaign began.
Against determined opposition, Australian and New Zealand troops won a bridgehead at ‘Anzac Cove’ on the Aegean side of the peninsula. The British, meanwhile, tried to land at five points around Cape Helles, but established footholds in only three before asking for reinforcements. Thereafter little progress was made, and the Turks took advantage of the British halt to bring as many troops as possible onto the peninsula.
This standstill led to a political crisis in London between Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty and the operation’s chief advocate, and Lord Fisher, the First Sea Lord, who had always expressed doubts about it. Fisher demanded that the operation be discontinued and resigned when overruled. The Liberal government was replaced by a coalition and Churchill, though relieved of his former post, remained in the War Council.
Amid sweltering and disease-ridden conditions, the deadlock dragged on into the summer. In July the British reinforced the bridgehead at Anzac Cove and in early August landed more troops at Suvla Bay further to the north, to seize the Sari Bair heights and cut Turkish communications. The offensive and the landings both proved ineffectual within days, faced with waves of costly counter-attacks.
The War Council remained divided until late 1915 when it was decided to end the campaign. Troops were evacuated in December 1915 and January 1916. Had Gallipoli succeeded, it could have ended Turkey’s participation in the war. As it was, the Turks lost some 300,000 men and the Allies around 214,000, achieving only the diversion of Turkish forces from the Russians. Bad leadership, planning and luck, combined with a shortage of shells and inadequate equipment, condemned the Allies to seek a conclusion in the bloody battles of the Western Front. Furthermore, Gallipoli’s very public failure contributed to Asquith’s replacement as Prime Minister by David Lloyd George in December 1916.

PhotographHenry Nicholas was the first soldier from the Canterbury Regiment to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

EARLY LIFE

Nicholas was born in Lincoln on 11 June 1891 to Richard and Hannah Nicholas. He attended Christchurch Normal School (in Cranmer Square) and Christchurch East School. He was then apprenticed to a builder, and his occupation on enlistment was given as carpenter. He had a reputation as a good sportsman, and was well known in New Zealand as an amateur boxer. He was unmarried.

AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS

Nicholas was awarded the Victoria Cross following his bravery in action at Polderhoek (Belgium) on 3 December 1917. He was officially invested with the VC at Buckingham Palace by H. M. King George V in July 1918.

POSTHUMOUS HONOURS

Nicholas died in action on 23rd October 1918 aged 26. He was awarded the Military Medal posthumously for his bravery during the fight for the bridgeheads at the River Ecaillon near the village of Beaudignies on 23 October 1918, twelve days before the New Zealanders’ capture of the town of Le Quesnoy.
He was buried with full military honours, on the 29th of October in the Vertigneul Churchyard, Romeries. Both of his medals are held by Canterbury Museum.
memorial to Henry Nicholas was unveiled on Wednesday 7 March 2007 at the Park of Remembrance – northwest of the Bridge of Remembrance on Cambridge Terrace.
Sergeant Henry Nicholas
Sergeant Henry Nicholas. Flickr CCL-2011-11-17-November2011 358-HenryNicholas

SOURCES

New Zealand and Le Quesnoy
Brief information from New Zealand History online.
David Ferguson, The History of the Canterbury Regiment, NZEF, 1914-19, 1921.
Sergeant Henry James Nicholas V.C. memorial unveiled
CCC Media Release, 28 February 2007.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SERGEANT NICHOLAS

Sergeant Henry James Nicholas V.C. M.M memorial
View our Flickr set of photos of the memorial overlooking the Bridge of Remembrance.
Casualty details Nicholas Henry James
Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site has details of war graves.
Quid non pro patria : the short, distinguished military life of Henry James Nicholas VC MM
by John H. Gray, also author of The New Zealand Division in France and Flanders, May 1916 to November 1918: a contemporary diary of pilgrimages in their footsteps April 2002 and July 2005
New Zealand. Army. Canterbury Regiment
Library holdings about this regiment.
Henry Nicholas VC
An interactive comic and story on stuff.co.nz. Art by Andrew Burdan, words by Charlie Gates, web by John Harford.

THE FIRST WORLD WAR

Internet gateway: World War I
Our links to selected web sites about World War One.
New Zealanders in World War I
Our guide to sources of information about the men and women who served in New Zealand forces during the first World War.
Anzac Day 25 April
Anzac Day in New Zealand is held on 25 April each year to commemorate New Zealanders killed in war and to honour returned servicemen and women.
Armistice Day 11 November
The anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War (1914-1918) commemorates the sacrifice of those who died serving New Zealand in this and all wars and armed conflicts.

MEDALS

Wreaths by the statue of Sergeant Henry Nicholas
Wreaths by the statue of Sergeant Henry Nicholas. Tuesday 1 May 2012. Flickr CCL-2012-05-01IMG_2133