Commemorative address at Act of Remembrance for Armistice Day


Tuatahi māku 

Ka mihi tu ki a koe Pita

E pīkauria ana i te mana o

Ngā tūpuna o te whenua nei.

Thank you Bernadette for your warm introduction.

I would also like to reflect on your acknowledgments and welcome Peter Jackson, Taranaki Whānui; Members of the National War Memorial Advisory Council; my colleagues Hon Judith Collins and Nicola Willis; BJ Clark, President of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association; Air Marshal Kevin Short, Chief of Defence Force and His Excellency Brigadier General Francis Agwi, High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea representing the Diplomatic Corps.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, an Armistice between the Allies and Germany came into effect, ending four years of terrible fighting and loss.

The First World War took an immense toll on Aotearoa, New Zealand – a country of just over a million people.

It cost the lives of 18,000 New Zealanders, and left tens of thousands more wounded.

While news of the Armistice was met here with relief and celebration, it also deepened the abiding sense of sorrow and bereavement that had settled across the country.

Prime Minister William Massey’s announcement of peace echoed through a country whose commitment to the war had been overlaid by disillusionment and grief.

As the Stratford Evening Post reported on the 13th of November 1918: ‘the ringing of the fire-bell, whistles blowing, the tin-can band of the boys’ were all ‘tempered with remembrance.’

Though the generation who lived through the First World War has passed, we will always remember their great sacrifice.

I’d personally like to reflect on Captain Harding Leaf, well known son of Te Tai Tokerau, soldier in World War 1 and World War 2. It is in his memory that I give this address today.

As well as joining today in remembrance, we also convey our hopes for the welfare and security of our friends and allies around the world.

I’d like to take this moment to acknowledge the Defence Force personnel currently deployed on operations overseas, and those currently involved in the COVID-19 response through Operation PROTECT. Many of you have been working away from home, away from whānau and friends, to ensure the safety of all New Zealanders. I’d like to thank you and your whānau for your significant effort and sacrifice. 

This Armistice Day, as we honour our forebears, we remind ourselves of the dangers of division and parochialism.

As we reflect on immense sacrifice and loss, we affirm the importance of cooperation and understanding.

And as we remember a dark chapter in our nation’s history, we look forward with a renewed commitment to inclusion, wellbeing, and peace.

Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou.