Te Anau low key for dawn service

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Te Anau brothers Jethro (3) and Max Griffin (5) lay a wreath on behalf of Southern Stars Early Learning Centre during the Fiordland RSA Dawn Service at Te Anau War Memorial at Anzac Reserve. The Southern Stars team made the wreath out of pine cones, tissue paper and cardboard, and also made Anzac biscuits.

FIORDLAND RSA’s Anzac Day Commemorations were scaled back with just one service this year.

The club opted for a 7am Dawn Service at Te Anau War Memorial at Anzac Reserve and the
service was livestreamed; up to 36 people watched live and the service has had more than
308 views.

Poppies were also taken to the Lynwood Cemetery and placed on the graves of former
RSA members.

Usually holding two services on Anzac Day including a parade, RSA members were  adamant they still wanted to offer one service.

About 250 people attended the dawn service in fine but cool conditions. It included a lot of
young people and 13 community groups and organisations laid wreaths on the memorial.

The dedication was performed by Doug Stevenson, from the Presbyterian Church, guest speaker was Te Anau School principal Grant Excell, Lament was played by bagpiper David Pickett, readings were done by Fiordland College head pupils and the Ode was read by
John Hefford.

Fiordland RSA’s new member Baz Wardenier had the responsibility of lowering and raising the flag at the service. Mr Wardenier is from the Netherlands and emigrated to New  Zealand 10 years ago. He has lived in Te Anau for the past three years and served five years in the Dutch Infanterie as a Corporal on a light armoured tank.

“I have done two tours to Afghanistan back in 2010 where we have been in a lot of close
combat while trying to create a safe, self-supporting and rebuild environment for the
locals.

“It was sad to see the country had fallen back in to the hands of Taliban last year. But we did our piece and fought for our lives to help the suppressed Afghani people to the best we
could.

“I loved being in the military but I like my new life in Te Anau now, and am a proud RSA
member who has great respect for any service member that has fought for freedom.’’

He urged anyone to support the RSA as it was important to help currents or ex-service
members through difficult times, Mr Wardenier said.

Fiordland RSA Secretary Jan Lieshout said, “The committee would like to thank those who
made our service so successful this morning and the community for their support both with
attendance, via live stream and Anzac displays around the town.

“It was a difficult decision to cancel the popular parade and we appreciated the understanding and support of the changes we made this year.’’

The Poppy Day appeal marked its 100th anniversary this year with 700,000 poppies
ready for sale with proceeds going to returned servicepeople and their families.

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