Record turnouts for Anzac ceremonies around the country were reflected at the little, Upper Waiwera cenotaph on April 25.
Normally around 100 gather for the remembrance service in this farming area – most have a family connection to the men whose names are engraved on the cenotaph.
But, in the Gallipoli centenary year, more than 400 people attended the half hour service on Anzac Day afternoon, filling the grassy area in front of the memorial to capacity.
Despite the numbers, this service retained its family atmosphere.
Commander Frank Rands, Commander Naval Reserve Operations Officer of the NZ Defence Force, began his speech by saying that 36 men from this region gave their lives during World War I, and that many were members of the same family. Several of those families lost more than one relative in the war.
Members of those families turned out in force – from Tom Bayer, who at almost 100 years old has lived in the area all his life, to seven generations of the McCathie family.
Wreaths were laid – including some that were beautifully handmade by the children of Wainui School – prayers said by Chaplin Murray Morgan, and The Last Post played.
Then, as has been traditional at this service for many years, everyone was invited to bring a plate and share afternoon tea at Mrs Patterson’s farmhouse.