Kiwiana Town | The Kiwiana capital of the world! | ANZAC
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ANZAC

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Against all odds

(The story of ANZAC)

ANZAC Day is a public holiday when New Zealanders and Australians remember their war dead. The name is derived from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, dispatched to the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey during the First World War. These troops were landed on a small rocky beach beneath steep cliffs on 25 April, 1915, the day that became known as Anzac Day. Their mission was to attempt the impossible, the capturing of key Turkish positions above the beach. Under constant fire and suffering from a shortage of supplies, the Anzacs had the added discomforts of thirst, vermin and flies in the fierce summer heat. Occasionally they were able to make a slight advance, only to be repulsed by the Turks. After eight months the situation was hopeless and the decision was made to evacuate. The last troops left the beach on 9 January 1916, and the disastrous Gallipoli campaign was over.

This country’s losses at Gallipoli were 2,721 men dead and another 4,752 wounded. Troops from New Zealand and Australia had endured the most appalling conditions, but had proved their abilities on the battlefield. They were now comrades in arms, and every Anzac Day the two countries remember the terrible price they paid for this gallantry.

Poppy Day

An important part of New Zealand’s war remembrance is Poppy Day, the day before Anzac Day. This association dates back to the early 19th century when blood red poppies were observed springing up on the old battlefields of Europe. The poppy became known as the “flower of sacrifice and remembrance”, and in 1915 was the subject of the poem “In Flanders Field”, written by a Canadian at the second battle of Ypres:

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow Beneath the crosses row on row.

– Col. John McCrae

This poem led to the wearing of a poppy as a token of remembrance. The first Poppy Day was held in Britain in 1921 and the following 24 April saw the custom reach New Zealand. The red flowers were sold to raise funds for needy ex-service personnel and their families. The earliest poppies had fabric petals and a fabric-covered wire stem, but are now made of moulded plastic.