New Zealand reflects on Anzac sacrifices

Cassie Devoy

Anzac Day has offered New Zealanders the chance for "thanks and quiet reflection" for those who sacrificed their lives in war, as thousands attended dawn services around the country.

At the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington on Tuesday morning, Governor-General Patsy Reddy, in front of a sombre crowd, thanked veterans for their service and commitment to the country.

She referred to the Battle of the Somme in 1917, where New Zealand's casualty figures were almost that of the Gallipoli campaign two years earlier.

"For the bereaved, an Anzac Day service was the nearest thing to a funeral that their loved ones would ever had."

Australian Defence Department secretary, Dennis Richardson, attending his first Anzac day ceremony in New Zealand, paid tribute to all former and current members of the defence force.

"This is a day of thanks and quiet reflection. We are reminded of the debt of gratitude of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The bond between New Zealand and Australia is unlike that of any other."

As the ceremony concluded the crowd was invited to lay tributes on the tomb of the unknown warrior.

A National Commemoration Service will be held at the same location from 11am.

The Wellington service was one of many dozens being held around the country on Tuesday.

In Auckland, a crowd of around 5000, with some children in school uniforms, gathered at War Memorial Museum at Auckland Domain on a crisp morning.

Along with veterans and RSA members, the number of young faces at services and parades has continued to grow since 2000, with a number wearing old uniforms and medals belong to grandfathers and great-grandfathers.

Prime Minister Bill English, who went to dawn services as a child, said he was struck by the number of people in their teens and 20s turning up now.

"Young people today I think understand Anzac Day. They are taught it better, they know it better than my generation did 30-40 years ago."

Mr English, who attended the Wellington service, said New Zealand forces were still deployed in 14 operations around the world and in many places were serving alongside Australians, just as at Gallipoli in 1915.

"I think it's important we remind ourselves that this is ongoing," Mr English said.

It's been 102 years since New Zealand and Australian soldiers landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.