Anzac Day

On 25 April each year, there is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand called Anzac Day to honour war veterans. The day marks the anniversary of the first big military action by Australian and New Zealand soldiers in World War 1.

The very first Anzac Day was in 1916, one year after the troops from both counties landed at the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

In the 1920’s Anzac Day was finally established as a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand. It's a day to reflect, pay tribute to and remember all those who lost their lives serving in wartime, and 100 years on, Anzac Day continues to be of cultural importance to Australia and New Zealand.

Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It was originally written as “A & NZ Army Corps” when the soldiers from Australia and New Zealand were grouped in Egypt waiting to go to Gallipoli to start fighting. The term was first used for only the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli – and the day of commemoration was to honour just these soldiers – but has since been used to mean any Australian or New Zealand soldier who served in World War 1.

Anzac dedication
They shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old; Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.

The Anzac Day ceremony is rich in tradition and rituals. Traditionally the day begins with a public commemorative service at dawn, the time the soldiers originally landed in Gallipoli and is held at war memorials throughout New Zealand, and in places overseas where there are a lot of Kiwis – maybe you even had one in your town this year!

The dawn service begins with a pre-dawn march by returned service personnel to a local war memorial, where they gather around the memorial and are then joined by people from the community. There’s a short service, followed by prayer, hymns and readings. Then the service is brought to an end by a lone bugler sounding the Last Post, followed by a minute of silence and the singing of the national anthem.

After the dawn ceremonies, there are parades with returned service personnel wearing their medals marching along the street. They're joined by defence force members, cadets and youth organisations and school children. During this service, the community can lay wreaths at the war memorial in remembrance of those who have passed.

Anzac is a day rich in history here in New Zealand, you can remember this important day in your own special ways – here are some activities you can do at home.

Make your very own Anzac poppies

Bake Anzac biscuits