Māori community comes up with lockdown solution to honour Anzac Day

By Dean Nathan

How can we honour Anzac Day with dignity while maintaining the conditions of lockdown?  It is a question the community of Otangarei in Whangarei have met to ponder over - and they have found a solution.

The entrance to Otangarei is where the community marches in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice on Anzac Day.

"We are of the view that we can maintain our social distances by staying at home and coming out at 5 o’clock in the morning for the commemoration when we will stand to attention outside of our homes," Whareharakeke Hauwai says.

The community are seeking a gifted bugleman to lead their ceremony.

"Once we hear the sound of the bugle playing the last post, we will all remember those that fought for us now."

For the past two years, Otangarei has hosted its own commemorations with a gathering of all families and photos of their war veterans on the marae.  In their third year now, they are keen to uphold the memory of their forebears.

"Our only challenge is to stay home, it's not like we’ve been selected to go to war and to give our lives in the heat of battle.  As a Māori community, we’re staunchly maintaining our traditions of honouring the deeds of our soldiers.

While Anzac commemorations across the nation are on hold this year, here is one community who have a plan to continue this tradition.

"This is a spiritual event for our community, so look out if we catch anyone in bed on that morning. When you die you can sleep forever, that's why sleepy fellas lose their lands or have their land stolen. Get up at 5am and do it!," Hauwai says.