The Returned Services Association (RSA) has cancelled all public ANZAC Day services on April 25th and postponed the annual Poppy Day Appeal due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
RSA National President BJ Clark says it's the first time such public services have been cancelled. It's also the first time the Poppy Day Appeal has been postponed.
“COVID-19 is a powerful and dangerous foe. RSA’s and the communities they are part of, all-over New Zealand must fight hard to protect our whānau and kaumātua from the transmission of this virus in keeping our proud memories of service and sacrifice. For this reason, RSA has decided that it is in the best interests of all New Zealanders to take these decision [sic]," says Clark.
“Given there is little public awareness around the scope and nature of the very real struggles they face both mental and physical injuries directly linked to their service. This group and their families, who are extremely vulnerable to the effects of COVID -19, require a more professional level of care and support that will further stretch the finite resources of RSA Support Services," he adds.
The postponement of the RSA’s major annual fundraiser is believed to have a significant financial impact as well on the organisation’s ability to support and help all service personnel, past and present, and their families.
The unveiling of the Pacific Islands Memorial at Pukeahu in Wellington, planned for April 18, has also been postponed.
However, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage has confirmed there will be an act of remembrance on behalf of the people of New Zealand at the National War Memorial, which will be closed to the public but will be recorded for broadcasting purposes.
Any other public Anzac Day event cancellations would be confirmed by local communities.