From left, Waiwera Valley Association chair Mike Ashwell with members John McConnell, and Grant Allen. The group was at the forefront of ensuring that the Upper Waiwera Anzac service went ahead, despite being officially cancelled.
Almost 200 people gathered at the Upper Waiwera Cenotaph in Wainui on Anzac Day to honour New Zealand’s fallen service-people, despite Police advising that the ceremony should be cancelled following the Christchurch attack.
Waiwera Valley Association (WVA) member Grant Allen says the community was extremely unhappy with the decision to cancel smaller Anzac services, believing it may disincentivise people to engage in their smaller local communities. In response, the WVA went ahead and organised a ceremony.
Grant says he informed Police about their plans to proceed, and Police responded by saying their resources on Anzac Day were too limited under New Zealand’s “medium” terror alert level to have officers attend the service.
To the surprise of the WVA, two policemen did come to the service and patrolled the road.
While no local schools were officially allowed to be involved, over 30 children attended the ceremony with their families, with a few participating by performing the haka as well as reading the Ode in both Te Reo Māori and English.
The proceedings were led by Jason Irvine, who stepped out of his role as Wainui School deputy principal to present the ceremony as a former serviceman in the Royal New Zealand Navy.
“Today we gather, as we always gather, not to glorify war, but to remember sacrifice,” he said.
Rodney MP Mark Mitchell and Rodney councillor Greg Sayers were also in attendance.
The service ended with afternoon tea across the road at Maureen Patterson’s house, just as it has done for the last 10 years.