An overwhelming number of people attended this year’s Anzac Day services in Oamaru, former North Otago RSA president John Longman says.
Thousands of people attended events across North Otago, including the Oamaru Dawn Service, parade and main service, the Pukeuri service and a service in Palmerston, to commemorate 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, Turkey.
More than 2000 people attended the Oamaru Dawn Service and a similar number of people went to the Oamaru Service at the Garden of Memories.
Mr Longman, who helped organise the main Oamaru services, said it was “fantastic” so many people went along to pay their respects.
“It was absolutely overwhelming. It blew my mind just how many people attended the service.
“We were not expecting that number of people to attend, so to see the town get in behind the service was very satisfying.”
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, who spoke at many of the events, said Mr Longman had done a great job in making them run smoothly.
“John deserves a lot of credit.”
Captain Russell Garbutt was the minister at the Dawn Service and guest speaker Waitaki Girls’ High School principal Tracy Walker spoke of the amount of loss in Oamaru caused by World War 1.
Mr Kircher, as guest speaker for the service at the Garden of Memories, spoke about the soldiers who went to war and how their sacrifice has affected society today.
The minister for the main service was Father Wayne Healey and nearly 20 wreaths were laid by schools, veterans and organisations.
Two WW2 guns were fired by the Oamaru Coastal Defence Group near the Garden of Memories.
Other services were also well attended with nearly double the usual number of people attending a service in Papakaio.
Organiser Alastair McDonald, who has been co-ordinating the service for nearly 20 years, said they had about great turnout of about 150 people at the Papakaio War Memorial on Saturday morning.
The most they had ever had in previous years was about 90, he said.
“It was an excellent service.”
Waitaki deputy mayor Hugh Perkins and the Rev Rose Luxford both made interesting addresses, he said.
Mr Perkins talked about a relative’s humorous war letters and afterwards people were invited to have an Anzac biscuit baked by Papakaio School students.
East Otago High School (EOHS) and the Palmerston RSA worked together to create a 100-year Anzac commemoration at the Palmerston Memorial Archway on Friday.
Organiser Alex Familton, a former EOHS principal and Waitaki mayor, said the event symbolically linked generations and showed that today’s values are hard-won and will need to be nurtured in the future.
Three symbolic presentations from veterans to students took place including the giving of the baton of opportunity for the journey of life, the lantern to light the way and the certificate of civilisation, freedom and opportunity.
A crowd of about 30 people attended a small service at the Pukeuri War Memorial, including a 26-year-old horse, Trigger, which was brought along to pay tribute to the horses that were taken to war.
By Brayden Lindsay and Ruby Harfield
PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS – Captain Russell Garbutt reads the prayer during the Dawn Service, which was attended by over 2000 people, at the World War 1 Memorial on Thames St, Oamaru, on Saturday morning.