Tāmaki Makaurau lights up to commemorate Anzac Day after mass gatherings cancelled

By Jessica Tyson

Despite the cancellations of mass gatherings around the motu on Anzac Day. there are still many ways New Zealanders can commemorate the servicemen and servicewomen who have served the country.

In Auckland, popular landmarks will light up as a symbol of remembrance. 

District President of the Auckland RSA Graham Graham Gibson says the Vector Lights at the Harbour Bridge, Sky Tower, Te Ara i Whiti lightpath and War Memorial Museum are lighting up poppy-red each night leading up to Anzac Day.

“We've even got Eden Park. They've decided to turn the lights on it red, so we've got a real red flavour, the thing of the poppy.”

Auckland mayor Phil Goff says, "It's a way that physically we can show that we are thinking of that sacrifice, that we're not taking for granted the lifestyle that we have today but what we've got today we've build on the shoulders before us.”

Photo source: File

Karakia and waiata

Mentor to the former executive 28 Māori Battalion Board Matt Te Pou says there are a lot of ways that people around the country will be able to pay tribute.

Some ways could include singing waiata, doing karakia, and doing a speech to remember our own tīpuna, he says.

“We can actually reside them to the rest of our whanau in the bubble,” he says.

People can also stand out to their gateway on Saturday morning to pay tribute.

“That’s what a lot of people are going to do at 6 o’clock. They’re going to stand there together, in a show of solidarity and a show of defiance I guess to the coronavirus but more importantly to actually reflect of those who passed away.”

The Auckland Council has a list of Anzac Day commemorative activities families can take part in:

Anzac Day to be commemorated on the front porch

The Returned and Services Association (RSA) and the New Zealand Defence Force are responding to the call with New Zealand’s Stand At Dawn at 6am on Anzac Day.

They are asking Kiwis to join with our Australian friends to commemorate Anzac Day while staying safely in our bubbles in the doorway, front porch, window or balcony.

At 6am, a virtual Anzac Day service will begin on Radio NZ National, bringing New Zealanders elements of a traditional Anzac Day service including the Last Post.

Those who join Stand At Dawn are asked to listen live on their phones/devices.

 “We will be delighted if people stand together in their bubbles at home to pay tribute to our fallen as the sun comes up. We urge everyone to stay at home, away from the street and observe physical distancing,” says Gibson.

Share a photo of your Anzac bear in the window on Instagram: #AnzacBearAKL. Photo source: Auckland Council

Teddies wear poppies 

Teddy bears in windows have become a beacon of unity in New Zealand neighbourhoods.

For Anzac Day, families have been asked if they would like to make a poppy for the teddy bears to wear on their lapel, or dress the window itself in something red.

In the week before and after Anzac Day, bear hunts will bring poignant new meaning. As whānau walk with children around the block and notice poppy-wearing teddies in neighbourhood windows, they might take time to tell the stories of their own war-time heroes and convey the significance of this day for New Zealand.

Photo source: Auckland Council

Lay a digital poppy with Auckland War Memorial Museum

In the absence of a physical gathering, the Museum’s Online Cenotaph will be a place for people to come together. People can lay a virtual poppy and leave messages for loved ones who have served as well as read stories about returned service people.

Auckland Museum Chief Executive Dr David Gaimster says gathering together has always been an important part of how we as a nation honour this important day in our history.

“The public can also lay a digital poppy in remembrance of a loved one. Last year over 90,000 digital poppies were laid on the Roll of Honour on the Online Cenotaph,” says Gaimster.

Goff says the decision to cancel parades and services this year was a difficult one, but unfortunately necessary because of the COVID-19 crisis.

“However, initiatives in Auckland will enable our communities to stay safe from the transmission of COVID-19 while paying tribute to those who have served and those who continue to serve our country in international conflicts.”

Vector Lights will shine poppy-red on the Auckland Harbour Bridge at 7.30pm from Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 April to commemorate Anzac Day. Te Ara i Whiti will light up on those evenings also.