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Anzac Day this week was a chance for us to reflect on the effects of wars that touched the lives of every New Zealand family. We also honour our veterans’ contribution to the peace, freedom, and security our country enjoys today.

Remembrance services happen across the country with the national service being held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington.

I had a busy day attending many local services including, speaking at the Paraparaumu Dawn Parade, the Levin Civic Ceremony and Waikanae Citizen’s Commemoration. It was great to see such a large turnout of locals including many children.

Later this year we also will mark the centenary of the horrific Battle of Passchendale. In 1917 on October 12th 845 New Zealanders were killed, which is more than any other day in our history. A further 2700 were wounded. With such great loss it is important we reflect on the sacrifices made in the fields of Belgium on that day, and throughout the First World War.

This year high school students across the country have been invited to enter a competition to illustrate what Passchendale means to Kiwis now. The winner will receive $2000 and will travel to Belgium for the commemorations. More details are available at www.veteransaffairs.mil.nz/multimediacompetition

Earlier this year, the Government announced we will offer the families of our military personnel buried in Singapore and Malaysia between 1955 and 1971 the opportunity to repatriate their loved ones.

New Zealanders are rightly proud of the service and dedication of our military personnel. They have and still represent New Zealand with courage, dignity and selflessness in conflict zones around the world.

With the commemorations of World War I, it’s also important to recognise the sacrifices of our current veterans who have fought in modern conflicts. We owe gratitude to those who have served our country and continue to do so to protect the ideals we hold dear.

Lest we forget.

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