Ōtaki MP Nathan Guy delivered a stirring and emotion charged speech at today’s ANZAC service at Paraparaumu.
ANZAC Day continues to draw huge crowds with thousands attending ceremonies throughout Kāpiti, despite wet weather again this year.
Mr Guy’s speech, hailed by many for it’s strong imagery and superb delivery, is printed in full below.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to speak to you on this day of great significance.
The story of ANZAC day is one that has become a significant milestone in the emergence of our unique New Zealand identity.
It is the story of the sacrifice of many young men from an equally young country.
It is the story of how strong ties of friendship were formed in the aftermath of war, and it is the story of how former foes have now become new friends.
I had the privilege of being able to share in a special part of the ANZAC story when I spoke at the ANZAC dawn service in Gallipoli last year.
As the resting place for so many of our war dead, Gallipoli has become a sacrosanct place for all New Zealanders.
The bravery of our soldiers and the losses and hardships they endured nearly a century ago are vividly recorded in our history books and etched into our national psyche.
New Zealand’s Expeditionary Force in 1915 numbered 8,427 men an enormous contribution for a young country of just one million people.
They were pitched into an ill-conceived campaign for which few of them were prepared.
It was on this day, 98 years ago, when they began making landfall with instructions to push inland and overrun the Turkish fortifications.
They were to learn that even with courage and natural ability, it could not compensate for failures in planning, leadership, and logistics.
As I toured the battlegrounds of the peninsula, the treacherous geography in which they fought became apparent.
Steep cliffs towered over the beach. Deep gullies stretched into Turkish territory.
Often we attacked at night, only to find out at daylight that we were lost up the wrong gully, with the Turks above us and all the geographical advantage.
Those who managed to fight their way up the cliffs and gullies found the terrain ahead of them to be a hostile as the fierce Turkish defence.
It was evident just how close some of the trenches actually were.
If you imagine a tennis court from baseline to baseline, that was often just how close our opponents were.
Chunuk Bair was a hilltop on a ridgeline that held a strategic advantage to the Dardanelles and to Istanbul.
Whoever held Chunuk Bair won the campaign.
The battle for Chunuk Bair was the last major push which New Zealand forces would make in the Gallipoli campaign.
We managed to hold it for a night and day in a bloody awful battle before the Turks outmuscled us.
A monument on the hill commemorates those New Zealanders who came ‘from the uttermost ends of the earth.’
These young men came from New Zealand’s young cities, towns, and rural communities and never returned.
They fought and died with their provincial friends; the Wellington battalion, the Auckland and Otago battalions, and the Māori battalion.
As the New Zealand poet Alistair Te Ariki Campbell wrote:
‘The light of adventure that shone so brightly in our eyes when we set out was extinguished that day. Young men from the farms, the mines, the cities, the public schools, we died in a vast quagmire of blood and broken bodies. No one told us it would be like this.’
I remember that the dawn service was dark.
Around 6,000 New Zealanders and Australians had slept under the stars to be a part of the commemoration.
As the sun rose, and the birds broke into song, the gentle wash of the surf could be heard across the cove.
It was peaceful.
We stood in front of the beach where many men were killed before even making it to shore.
The roll call played on the screens in front of me.
It was long and sad, and I remember how incredibly moving it was to be at this hallowed place.
A female in the New Zealand band was waiting to play. She had tears rolling down both of her cheeks.
It was also a day of significance for the Turkish.
Stories from 98 years ago suggest that after bloody hand to hand combat on the tennis court, Turks would help return the wounded and dead to our trenches.
It was the start of what is now an amazing friendship.
The Turkish people treated the memories of all those who fought and died there with dignity and respect.
President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s famous words sum up the kindness of the Turkish people to we who were once considered invaders.
Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours.
You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosoms and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they become our sons as well.
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent the New Zealand Government at Gallipoli last year and speak on such hallowed soil.
I felt immensely proud to be a Kiwi and to acknowledge those that made the ultimate sacrifice.
Lest we forget our history that’s why I brought my family along today.
Our children need to know that our forefathers have made huge sacrifices to give them a better life.
This month, New Zealand withdrew our forces from Afghanistan where around 3000 soldiers have served for 10 years.
Ten of these soldiers did not return alive. These who have made the ultimate sacrifice are now etched into memory alongside those who died at Gallipoli.
Lest we forget that our countrymen and women are still making huge sacrifices to give us all a better life.”no