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From left, Hohepa (Joe) Wehipeihana, George Tahiwi (uncle of the Waaka men), and brothers Rupene, Henare and Tommy Waaka, who all served in the Navy.

 

A crowd of several hundred gathered in Memorial Park to commemorate Anzac Day early on the morning of Thursday, April 25.

Service veterans wore their medals proudly on their left chest; family members of some who had died or were unable to attend wore theirs on the right.

John Brown was proud to take his grandson, Scout Emery Brown, along to the Ōtaki RSA after the dawn Anzac commemoration.

Others came simply to pay their respects, bringing young children who seemed awed at the ceremony of the occasion.

Local military buff Royce Bowler’s naval gun stood guard on Main Street, soldiers stood silently with bowed heads, wreaths were laid by service associations and dignitaries (including Mayor Gurunathan), there were speeches, of course, and right on cue, two military helicopters flew from the north over the commemoration at 6.30am. They returned shortly afterwards as light grew and the crowds entered the Ōtaki and District RSA.

With the more solemn part of the day over, it was chance for people to catch up with old mates and whānau who had come from around the country to attend. It was more smiles than tears, both having their place at the one time of the year when remembrance is so important.

Anzac Day well attended

 
 
 

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