More than 2700 New Zealanders lost their lives serving as part of the Australia New Zealand Army Corps that landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
Remembrance and gratitude were a big part of my childhood and adolescence. My father was a returned serviceman, as were both my grandfathers, my uncles and great uncles. In my adult life I am the cousin, sister, and wife of returned servicemen. Remembrance and gratitude continues to be part of my life.
Anzac day is a day to appreciate all our veterans, and those currently serving in our armed forces. On Anzac Day the NZ Defence Force will have more than 600 personnel deployed on 14 peacekeeping operations, United Nations missions, and defence exercises around the world.
This year our armed forces have also given support on our own shores. When tragedy struck Christchurch on 22 February, our armed forces responded immediately.
During the past year we have also faced losses in our defence force. Last Anzac Day a helicopter crash, near Pukerua Bay Coast, claimed the lives of three Iroquois crew: Flight Lieutenant Hayden Madsen, Flying Officer Daniel Gregory, and crewman Corporal Andrew Carson. Our thoughts are with their families at this time and Sergeant Stevin Creeggan, the only survivor of the crash.
In Afghanistan we lost three New Zealanders, Lieutenant Timothy O'Donnell, Private Jack Howard (serving in the British Army), and Private Kirifi Mila.
While our forces today may serve our country in a very different way to the Anzacs at Gallipoli, they are upholding democracy, preserving peace, providing aid, and supporting people around the world.
Our Government is committed to honouring those veterans who served our country. We have delivered on our pre-election promise of the New Zealand Defence Service Medal and have recently hosted a medal ceremony at Parliament for the first 34 recipients. It was wonderful see these men and women receiving recognition for the service they gave to our country.
We want our veterans to know how much we value them, and that we appreciate the job they do. I encourage you to join me at the Porirua Combined Anzac Day Service on Monday at Te Rauparaha Park from 9am.