Te Anau sees record crowds

Royal New Zealand Air Force Flight Sergeant Kate Staunton lowers the New Zealand flag, flanked by Scouts flag bearers Lisa Scott (left) and Chloe Houghton during the Fiordland RSA Anzac Day morning service at the Fiordland Community Events Centre on Sunday.
Waimutuku Southern Scenic Highland Pipe Band pipers lead the parade through Te Anau town centre on Anzac Day.

WET weather failed to deter a record crowd at Te Anau’s Anzac Day dawn service on Sunday, with about 250 people gathering at Te Anau Club Memorial flagpole at 7am.

Fiordland RSA president Geoff Trumper said the dawn service and the parade were well attended considering the wet weather.

“The dawn service is a unique opportunity for people to experience a special time for reflection, especially for those who work, [and] gives them a chance to attend,” he said.

Another record 1200 people attended the 11am service at the Fiordland Community Events Centre after a parade through the town centre.

The parade, led by four pipers from the Waimutuku Southern Scenic Highland Pipe Band, included Scouting Te Anau flag bearers, New Zealand Defence Force and Fiordland RSA members, Te Anau Fire Brigade and members of the public, who marched to the Fiordland Community Events Centre.

A performance by the Fiordland Kapa Haka group began the morning service, followed by the dedication performed by Reverend Craig Allan. The service also included a waiata by Metiria Light, of Invercargill, bagpiper David Pickett, readings by Fiordland College head pupils Emma Britton and Jake Tither, an ode read by Bob Yates and the singing of the national anthem by Andres Saavedra and Heather Naylor, of Te Anau. Guest speakers were Dale Wairau, of Te Anau, and Ray Willet, who recited a poem.

Former Te Anau resident Kate Staunton, who is a Flight Sergeant in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) in Auckland, lowered the flag during the service. Sgt Staunton joined the RNZAF in 2000, spending the first seven years in communications.

From 2007, she had been an Air Loadmaster at 40 Squadron serving on both C130H and B757 aircraft.

“It was a real honour to be part of the service in my home town this year, especially considering it was my first Te Anau Anzac Day service. Most years I have been away on operation or tasking with the air force overseas or have attended the service at my home base in Auckland,” she said.

“Small town services are really special and lovely to see such great community support. Really special to see the local fire and police, scouts and other groups involved in the march and service. It is particularly special having the head students and local community members speak during the service, making it all that more memorable and small town special.”

Three military vehicles from the Fiordland Military Vehicles Museum were on display and the two-gun salute across Lake Te Anau from a 105mm howitzer military gun was performed after the service by Duncan McGregor, of the museum.