Anzac Day occurs on 25 April. It commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women.
In 2015, the Dawn Parade Service in Dunedin begins at 0630 hours, at the Cenotaph located in Queens Gardens.
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.
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 the tradition, ritual and detail that befit a military funeral.
Proceedings are marked by a solemn and sincere atmosphere. The dawn parade, last post, gun salute, tribute, two major parts: one at dawn and another, more public event, later in the morning. Reverence for returned servicemen.
The modern day sees a strong resurgence of interest in Anzac day traditions and ceremony. The proceedings and ritual of each Anzac day recognise and remind us of warfare and its horrors, while the surrounding Anzac phenomena increasingly expands social and historical consciousness with themes of honour, remembrance, and gratitude. Centenary events planned for 2015 promote inclusiveness and anticipate mass attendance.