Anzac Day dawn service at Mount Maunganui

Bagpipe player Craig Watson led the procession at the 2024 Anzac Day dawn service at Mount Maunganui. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

Thousands of people have turned out for the Anzac Day Dawn Service at Mount Maunganui.

Surrounding the Mount Maunganui Cenotaph which stands as a solemn sentinel, the community has gathered to honour and remember the sacrifices of those who served their country.

The public stood silent as City of Tauranga Pipe Band's bagpipe player Craig Watson led the march on at 5.45am, with a guard formed first around the four corners of the Cenotaph.

Marchers including veterans, scouts, police and other services, who marched on to the memorial site from opposite Mount Drury, which was packed with people watching the proceedings.

A period of silence and reflection followed until 6am when Mount Maunganui RSA President Arthur King welcomed everyone.

Mount Maunganui College student Morgan Kitching's beautiful clear voice rang out as she led the singing of the Australian National Anthem, followed by the New Zealand National Anthem in Māori and English.

2024 Anzac Day Dawn service at Mount Maunganui. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

Mount Maunganui RSA Chaplain Marie Gilpin then led an opening prayer, followed by an address by Arthur.

"This morning we reflect on the ongoing conflicts around the world and we are mindful of the suffering of everyone concerned," says Arthur.

He reminded the listeners how NZ forces regrettably suffered over 58,000 casualties.

Thousands of people gathered on Mount Drury and along Marine Parade at Mount Maunganui for the 2024 Anzac Day dawn service at the Mount Maunganui Cenotaph. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

"At the end of WW1 the armistice agreement between Germany and the Allies was signed, an agreement that was supposed to end all world wars," says Arthur, before recounting how Australians and New Zealanders met in Egypt.

"Nowadays children and young adults have come to understand the word 'Anzac'.

"The word 'Passchendaele' has become synonymous with battles fought and lives lost. New Zealand suffered a further 18,000 casualties including 5000 deaths.

"This year marks the 108th anniversary of Returned Services Association."

An evocative poem was read expressing sentiments and loss, and giving moments to reflect and ponder on with lines such as "pools of crimson blood where shapes of men fell down".

2024 Anzac Day dawn service at Mount Maunganui. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford. 

Arthur ended his address expressing hope for the future, and that people would come visit the Mount RSA.

"We are thinking forward, to encourage everyone to enjoy our services and camaraderie but learn the history."

Chaplain Marie Gilpin continued the service with a reading from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8.

1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Sunrise following the 2024 Anzac Day dawn service at Mount Maunganui. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

"We remember with deep sadness and pride the sons of Gallipoli and all those who died," says Marie.

She then prayed, giving thanks "with deep sadness and pride for the sons of Gallipoli, and all those who served, giving their lives even unto death".

"We pray that New Zealanders will live their lives in a spirit of justice, generosity and peace."

Mount RSA member Neale Mann lay the Mount RSA's wreath at the base of the Cenotaph.

Roads near to the Mount Cenotaph were closed for the 2024 Anzac Day dawn service at Mount Maunganui. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

Following the wreath laying, there was silence as a red hue of dawn started to touch the clouds across the sky. Moreporks, tūīs and fantails could be heard from the pohutukawa trees across the road with the sound of waves breaking on the beach below.

A recorded song -  'The Sons of Gallipoli' - was played before Marie gave a benediction.

Thousands of people gathered for the 2024 Anzac Day dawn service at Mount Maunganui. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

The Anzac dedication (Ode) was said by Malcolm McGregor in Māori and English and bugler Peter Cranson played the Last Post.

Arthur closed the ceremony with an invitation to everyone to join RSA members for breakfast at the Mount RSA.

Bagpipe player Craig Watson then led the procession for the march off, while a single plane flew a salute overhead.

'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.' - from the poem 'For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon.

Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou, we will remember them.


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