A crowd of 2,000 attended the ANZAC dawn service at Te Papaiouru, Ōhinemutu in Rotorua this morning.
Each year the event continues to draw the young and old.
According to Monty Morrison, “I started coming to this in 1950 with my father and grandfather, mother. So from that time till now I've been coming here”.
Attending today's service is a tradition for Morrison and the families from Ōhinemutu.
“This day is remembering those who did not return home,” says Morrison.
Famed Māori soldier Haane Manahi was born here in Ohinemutu.
He was honoured for his bravery in battle in Tunisia during WWII.
Ngahihi o te ra Bidois says, “The lesson here is for us to never forget those who did not return home and also to remember those who fought for peace”.
Member of Parliament for Waiariki, Tamati Coffey says that today we should “stop and take a moment and just to have a pause and think about those people that served overseas on our behalf. They gave up their tomorrows for our today”.
Almost 2,000 Māori served in the Māori Pioneer Battalion in World War I and in World War II 3,600 men served overseas in the 28th Māori Battalion, between 1940 and 1945.
Vice President of the Te Arawa Maori Returned Services League, Henare Macown says, “I'm very sad for the soldiers, families- I mourn for them”.
Other services taking place in Rotorua today were held at Whakarewarewa and the Government Gardens.