ANZAC Day occurs on the 25th April. It commemorates all New Zealanders killed in wars and also honours returned servicemen and women.
This resource has been set up to help you understand more about ANZAC Day and how important it is to New Zealand.
Bingo Board Tasks
To the left is an activity sheet with 16 cool tasks that you can work through as we lead up to ANZAC Day.
Some of the tasks require a little knowledge about ANZAC day or specific resources.
To help with these tasks we have supplied a number of resources. These are further down this article or you can click here.
ANZAC Day – 25th April
The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim was to capture the Dardanelles, the gateway to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders.
Thousands lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign: 87,000 Turks, 44,000 men from France and the British Empire, including 8500 Australians. To this day, Australia also marks the events of 25 April. Among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders, about a sixth of those who served on Gallipoli.
It may have led to a military defeat, but for many New Zealanders then and since, the Gallipoli landings meant the beginning of something else – a feeling that New Zealand had a role as a distinct nation, even as it fought on the other side of the world in the name of the British Empire.
Anzac Day was first marked in 1916
The day has gone through many changes since then. The ceremonies that are held at war memorials up and down New Zealand, or in places overseas where New Zealanders gather, remain rich in tradition and ritual befitting a military funeral.
The Anzac Day ceremony of 25 April is rich in tradition and ritual.
It is a form of military funeral and follows a particular pattern. The day’s ceremonies have two major parts: one at dawn and another, more public event, later in the morning.
A typical commemoration begins with a march by returned service personnel before dawn to the local war memorial. Military personnel and returned servicemen and women form up about the memorial, joined by other members of the community. Pride of place goes to war veterans.
A short service follows with a prayer, hymns (including Kipling’s ‘Recessional’ or ‘Lest we forget’) and a dedication that concludes with the fourth verse of Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
The last post is then played, and this is followed by a minute’s silence and the reveille. A brief address follows, after which the hymn ‘Recessional’ is sung. The service concludes with a prayer and the singing of the national anthem.
The Anzac Parade
Another ceremony takes place later on the morning of 25 April. Returned service personnel wear their medals and march behind banners and standards. The veterans are joined by other community groups, including members of the armed forces, the Red Cross, cadets, and veterans of other countries’ forces.
The march proceeds to the local war memorial. Another service takes place there, and various organisations and members of the public lay wreaths. This service is a more public commemoration than the dawn service. It is less intimate and less emotional. The speech, usually by a dignitary, serviceman or returned serviceman or woman, can stress nationhood and remembrance.
After these services, many of the veterans retire to the local Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) club or hotel, where they enjoy coffee and rum (in the case of the dawn service) and unwind after an emotionally and, for elderly veterans, physically exhausting event. At the end of the day, the ceremony of the retreat is performed.
The red poppy has become a symbol of war remembrance the world over. People in many countries wear the poppy to remember those who died in war or who still serve. In many countries, the poppy is worn around Armistice Day (11 November), but in New Zealand it is most commonly seen around Anzac Day, 25 April.
The red or Flanders poppy has been linked with battlefield deaths since the time of the Great War (1914–18). The plant was one of the first to grow and bloom in the mud and soil of Flanders. The connection was made, most famously, by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in his poem ‘In Flanders fields’.
In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
McCrae was a Canadian medical officer who, in May 1915, had conducted the funeral service of a friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres (Ieper). Distressed at the death and suffering around him, McCrae scribbled the verse in his notebook. In a cemetery nearby, red poppies blew gently in the breeze – a symbol of regeneration and growth in a landscape of blood and destruction.
McCrae threw away the poem, but a fellow officer rescued it and sent it on to the English magazine Punch; ‘In Flanders fields’ was published on 8 December 1915. Three years later, on 28 January 1918, McCrae was dead. As he lay dying, he is reported to have said ‘Tell them this, if ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep.’