A sunny autumn day was a mixed blessing for the 11am Anzac service held at the Hibiscus Coast Community RSA in Whangaparaoa.
The solemn service on April 25, is one of the largest in the area and hundreds of people of all ages turned out to watch the veterans march past, heads held high. While the numbers of veterans marching dwindle, a large number watch seated near the cenotaph.
The parade also included current members of the armed forces, local organisations such as the Air Cadets, St John, Scouts, Guides and representatives of local schools.
The service, led by Commander Frank Rands, continued with readings by students from Whangaparaoa College, prayers, the singing of the Australian and NZ national anthems and the lowering of the flag to the sounds of The Last Post played expertly by bugler Kerry Robertson.
Standing in the sun for the hour-long service proved too much for several among the crowd and in particular for one Navy veteran, Ken Johnstone of Red Beach, who has led in the veterans, holding the Kings Empire Veterans flag, for many years. He was carried from the parade grounds by St John but made a full recovery and was later seen with a beer in his hand in the RSA.
Fallen honoured at Puhoi
Around 150 people turned out to pay their respects at an Anzac Day Service at the Puhoi Pioneers Memorial Park.
Among the speakers was long-time Puhoi resident Larry Mitchell who paid tribute to all those who had fought and lost loved ones, and in particular recalled his uncle Lawrence Mitchell who died during WWII.
Sub-lieutenant Lawrence Mitchell, of the RNZAF, died when the Fairey Battle aircraft he was piloting crashed into the sea off the coast of England, following a four-hour sortie.
During his speech, an emotional Larry Mitchell read from the last entry in his uncle’s diary, believed to be the last words he wrote.
Also taking part in the service, with prayers, presentations and songs, were the Orewa Sea Scouts, the Puhoi Children’s Choir, the Puhoi Scout and Cub group and the Puhoi Fire Brigade.
Prior to the service, The Puhoi Scout and Cub group pinned on to the Memorial Gates a poppy they made for each fallen soldier from Puhoi.