100 Years on and ANZAC Back at Pōhaturoa

100 Years on and ANZAC Back at Pōhaturoa

Whakatāne RSA, Whakatāne District Council and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa are working together to turn back time for ANZAC Day this year.

One hundred years ago, Whakatāne held its first ANZAC commemorations at Pōhaturoa in the town’s central business district and this year the plan is to do same and pay homage to that part of the civic history.

Whakatāne RSA President Victor Hape said this year’s Dawn Service would be held at Pōhaturoa, however Te Whare o Toroa Marae in Wairaka would still host breakfast afterwards.

“The first records at the RSA show that we held a community ANZAC Day service in 1923 at Pōhaturoa Rock. Back in 1923 they used to have it at about 2pm. Over the years, the dawn service commemorations have moved between Pōhaturoa, to the Heads, where the wreaths were floated out into the sea, and then eventually it moved to Te Whare o Toroa Marae where it has been ever since.”

“The Dawn Service will return to Te Whare o Toroa Marae next year but when I realized that our records showed that the first one was at Pōhaturoa in 1923, we thought we needed to do something special to mark the anniversary.”

Mr Hape brought representatives from Ngāti Awa and the District Council together to help pull off the plan.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Chief Executive Reuben Araroa said Ngāti Awa had always supported ANZAC commemorations in Whakatāne and in other townships across the district.

“Our support is to recognise the service and sacrifices that many of our Ngāti Awa service people undertook during our past and present. More importantly the commemoration provides the opportunity for iwi to come together in a different way to reflect on such matters related to iwi whether we had served or not.

“It’s equally important our future generations recognise the importance of remembering our Iwi members who served and gave their lives for the future wellbeing of Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Whakatāne District Mayor Dr Victor Luca said the council was pleased to support the services at Pōhaturoa.

“I’ve attended the dawn service at Wairaka in previous years and appreciate Ngāti Hokopū and Ngāti Awa welcoming the wider community. It’s great to see so many families and young people turning out to honour those who served. I think this year’s dawn service at Pōhataroa will be very special.”

The community is asked to gather near Pōhaturoa before 5.30am with formalities to start shortly after that time, beginning with a small mihi from Ngāti Awa.

A full Dawn Service will follow including the flying of the National flags of New Zealand, Australia and Turkey, the readings of the ode and laying of the wreathes.

ANZAC breakfast, with the traditional roll call, will be held at Te Whare o Toroa Marae on Muriwai Drive following the service and buses will be available for transport.

Whakatāne District Council will also hold its traditional Civic ANZAC Day Memorial Service at the Whakatāne War Memorial Hall later in the morning.

Pōhaturoa Rock