ANZAC Cove Dawn Service

Speech to the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at ANZAC Cove, Turkey
25 Apr 2009

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, 94 years ago, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (who would come to be known as ANZACs) landed on this beach.

None of the soldiers who fought on this beach and the hills beyond remain, but their part in the history of our two nations will always endure. 

As we stand here, we need to remember not only what happened here, but what it means for us today. What lessons can we draw from the experience of those who died?

When war was declared, New Zealanders and Australians in their thousands willingly volunteered to serve their King and to serve the British Empire.  

They were young and they were full of hope and strength. No-one wanted to be left behind.

They believed that they would go to the Western Front.  Instead they came to an ill-planned, ill-prepared and ultimately ill-fated campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

As they waited on the ships offshore, preparing to land, the excitement would have been palpable.  As Sergeant Richard Ward, of the Waikato Company, wrote in his diary: "This I have no doubt will be the greatest day in our lives."

Today, it is difficult to imagine the horror and the calamity that unfolded as the ANZAC soldiers landed here.  Many were cut down in the water.  Those who made it to shore found themselves pinned down on a terribly exposed beach, which was soon littered with the dead, the dying and the wounded.  Of the 1500 New Zealanders who saw action on that first day, about 600 were lost.

Those who lived endured inhuman conditions.  They were short of water, short of food, short of clothes, without sanitation and with almost nowhere to bury their dead. 

From hopeful optimism came a fervent desire for an end to the futile carnage. As Sergeant George Bollinger, of the Auckland Infantry, wrote: "The heat is intense; flies swarm the trenches in millions.  The stench from the bodies of our men lying on trenches in front is choking and nearly unbearable.  The world outside has great confidence in their men but I often wonder if they realise or try to realise what a hell the firing line is and know that every man desires and cannot help desiring immediate peace."

As the death toll rose ever higher, the summer heat was replaced by rain and then by snow.   Torrential rain filled the trenches and turned the land into an unremitting bog. Eight months after landing at Gallipoli, and a few days short of Christmas, the Allied soldiers were ignominiously evacuated.  

Visiting this spot, I am struck by how small the area is. Wresting and holding control of this tiny enclave caused the deaths or injuries of some 560,000 Turks and Allied soldiers. Of the 8556 New Zealanders who had served here, more than a quarter died in combat or from disease, and more than half were wounded.  

The Gallipoli campaign was a disaster, and its awful consequences should remind us to this day of the ultimate futility of war.  Today, we honour all those who served and died here-Allied and Turkish soldiers alike-for their courage, their bravery and their valour.

For Turkey, Gallipoli is the place where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk heroically led his troops in defence.  Within a decade, Ataturk was President, and is remembered today as the founding father of modern Turkey.  The Ataturk Memorial in Wellington, and a similar memorial in Canberra, signify his legacy and his efforts to engender reconciliation between the former foes.  

For New Zealand, Gallipoli stands as a reminder that, from the ashes of defeat, came the first understanding of nationhood. 

New Zealanders lost their innocence at Gallipoli, and later on the Western Front.   But from that loss of innocence, and from deep grief at the loss of so much life, New Zealanders also came to see their nation as more than just an imperial adjunct. 

New Zealand was automatically signed up to this conflict by Britain's declaration of war.   But it was in its own right that New Zealand signed the peace treaty that brought the war to an end. 

The sacrifices of Gallipoli also forged deep bonds between New Zealanders and Australians.   They fought side by side, they died side by side and they were buried side by side.  Like the mesh of barbed wire on which many lost their lives, close friendships were formed.  As Australian official historian, Charles Bean, wrote of the first days of fighting: "Three days of genuine trial had established a friendship which centuries will not destroy."

The ANZAC spirit has endured.   In places such as the Solomon Islands and East Timor, New Zealand and Australian defence personnel continue to work side by side for common goals.

The strength of the ANZAC spirit is also evident in the goodwill of the New Zealanders and Australians who have travelled to Gallipoli to commemorate those gallant soldiers who served and died here.

As we gather this morning, our nation and world are again being tested by forces beyond our control.  Conflict and famine remain, and now we are all being tested by economic turmoil and troubles.

However, I believe that in these troubling times we can draw inspiration from those who have gone before, and from the example that they set. The New Zealanders who fought and died here, and those who have served in conflicts since then, did so to protect our democratic values and our way of life.  They hoped for a better world. 

Because of their service, few of us will ever be called upon to endure what they went through.   That legacy is a mighty gift that we should always cherish.   As we look to the future, we should always remember their sacrifices.  This is a lesson we should never forget.

No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.

Back to Speeches

Tours of Government House Wellington for the public, schools and community groups are offered by our Visitor Centre.

Find out more.

Features

  • Global Women International Women's Day Event
  • HM The Queen's Message to Christchurch
  • The Bledisloe Address - Waitangi Day 2017
  • Dame Patsy's New Year Message
    Dame Patsy Reddy - New Year Message
  • New Year Honours List 2017
  • Message from HRH The Prince of Wales
  • Message from HM The Queen regarding the North Canterbury earthquake
  • Messages from the Governor-General and Dutch King and Queen
  • Swearing-In Ceremony
  • Armorial Bearings - Sir Jerry Mateparae
  • Bledisloe Ballot 2017
  • Beer Braised Beef Cheeks
  • Queen approves honours for the Governor-General Designate
  • Boots the Cat - The Biography
  • The Governor-General's Anzac of the Year Award 2016
  • New Year Message
  • A Ceremony of Welcome in New Zealand
  • Charlotte Royale cake recipe
  • Charlotte Royale recipe - in honour of Princess Charlotte
  • Prince Harry - Visit Itinerary
  • Amazing Easter Wreath
  • The Governor-General's Anzac of the Year Award
  • Bledisloe Garden Reception 2015
  • New Year Message
  • Christmas Eccles Cakes
  • State Banquet for the President of China
  • Grilled Turbot Fillet and Cwmglyn Rarebit
  • The Governor-General and Government Formation After the Election
  • Government House Recipes - Orange and Olive Oil Syrup Cake
  • New Year message - 2014
    Governor-General's 2014 New Year message
  • New Year Honours 2014
    Queen honours New Zealand's best
  • Nelson Mandela
    Governor-General pays tribute to South African leader
  • Niue and the Cook Islands
    Visits reaffirm special relationships within the Realm of New Zealand
  • Badge of the General Fono of Tokelau
    Governor-General hosts ceremony at Government House
  • Leadership Week
    Governor-General leads the Sir Peter Blake Trust Dream Team
  • Matariki 2013
    Governor-General recognises the contribution of women
  • Coronation Diamond Jubilee
    The Governor-General looks back at the Queen's 1953 Coronation
  • AIDS Candlelight Memorial
    Message from the Governor-General
  • South Canterbury and North Otago Regional Visit
    20-23 February: An overview
  • Waitangi Day - 2013
    Governor-General and Lady Janine visit Waitangi and Auckland
  • New Year Message 2013
    Governor-General issues his 2013 New Year message
  • New Year Honours 2013
    New Zealanders recognised by The Queen of New Zealand
  • Birthday cake
    Secrets of Government House birthday cake revealed
  • Diamond Jubilee visit
    Royal couple to visit Auckland, Wellington, Manawatu and Christchurch
  • Royal reception
    Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall prepare for trip to downunder
  • New Zealand's Governor-General
    Government House publishes new booklet
  • 2012 London Olympic Games
    The Governor-General supports the NZ Olympic Team in London
  • Diamond Jubilee message
    The Governor-General's Diamond Jubilee message
  • Western Bay of Plenty regional visit
    The Governor-General makes his first official visit.
  • Open Days 2014
    Government House Open Days 2014
  • Christchurch and Canterbury Earthquake Anniversary
    The Governor-General's Programme
  • Waitangi Celebrations 2012
    The Governor-General's first Waitangi Day Programme
  • Governor-General's New Year Message
    Sir Jerry Mateparae issues his 1st New Year message - watch the video
  • State Opening of Parliament
    Governor-General announces the Government's plans
  • Speaker-elect confirmation ceremony
    Dr Smith confirmed as Speaker of the House
  • Appointment of the new Government
    The Governor-General appoints the new Government
  • Queen's Diamond Jubilee Emblem
    New emblem to mark the Diamond Jubilee
  • Rugby World Cup
    Message from the Queen of New Zealand on the All Blacks' victory
  • State Swearing-in of Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae
    A Government House short film
  • Royal NZ Navy 70th Anniversary
    The Governor-General hosted and attended associated events
  • New Zealand Gallantry Awards
    Government House has today issued a special honours list
  • One year on from the 4 September 2010 Canterbury earthquake
    Governor-General issues a message
  • Swearing in ceremony
    Sir Jerry Mateparae to become NZ's 20th Governor-General
  • Sir Paul Reeves
    New Zealand's first Governor-General of Maori descent dies
  • Visit by King George Tupou V of Tonga
    The Governor-General hosted a State Welcome for the King of Tonga
  • Māori King visits Government House
    The King plants a tree to mark the visit
  • Matariki
    The Governor-General's 2011 Matariki Message
  • The Royal Wedding
    Sir Anand and Lady Susan attended the Royal Wedding on 29 April
  • ANZAC Day message
    The Governor-General's message for ANZAC Day commemorations
  • The National Christchurch Memorial Service
    Details and photos are available here.
  • Christchurch Earthquake
    Governor-General offers the support of all New Zealanders
  • Canterbury earthquake
    World leaders send messages of support to New Zealand
  • Waitangi Day 2011
    Sir Anand Satyanand's last Waitangi Day as Governor-General
  • New Year Message
    Governor-General issues his message for 2011
  • Pike River Mine Tragedy
    World leaders send messages of support to New Zealand
  • Governor-General visits Canterbury
    A visit to support and encourage those affected by the earthquake
  • New Year Message
    Governor-General issues his message for 2010
  • Governor-General's 2009 New Year Message
    New Zealanders urged to volunteer