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Prime Minister's message

As some organisers of Anzac Day events have indicated that they would like to read out a message from the Prime Minister or the Governor-General, here is the Anzac Day 2016 message from the former Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key.

We will publish the 2017 message shortly before Anzac Day 2017.

The Governor-General's message is here.

Prime Minister's 2016 Anzac Day message

One hundred years ago we saw New Zealand’s first Anzac Services held on April 25, 1916, following calls for a day to honour those lost at Gallipoli.

As a country of barely one million people at the time, New Zealand was profoundly affected by the First World War. The price we paid was a high one. More than 18,000 New Zealanders lost their lives, leaving few families unaffected.

The First World War helped shape our nation and our shared values. It cemented our ties with other countries, in particular our kinship with Australia. Today, communities on both sides of the Tasman will gather to reflect on the sacrifices made and the bonds forged between our two nations.

Despite what they endured, the actions of New Zealanders during 1916 – in the tunnels below Arras, on the perilous North Sea, and on the fields of France – were true to the Anzac spirit of bravery, compassion and comradeship established at Gallipoli.

As commemorations shift focus from Gallipoli to the significant contribution made by New Zealand on the Western Front, we remember especially the Battle of the Somme, where our forces were exposed to the new horrors of gas and mechanised warfare.

Early Anzac services held great significance for those who grieved for lost loved ones, many of whom had no known grave and almost all of whom were buried half a world away.

The day has grown to become a time for us to collectively honour all affected by conflict and war, both past and present. This year as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, we remember those who served in the Vietnam War. We also recognise the 75th anniversary of the Battle for Crete in the Second World War.

Last year Kiwis turned out in unprecedented numbers to Anzac Day services and events, including around 40,000 who attended the first-ever dawn ceremony at Wellington's Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. This engagement illustrates our nation’s enduring respect for the Anzacs and their proud legacy.

The Anzac legacy lives on through our current service personnel, who continue to work towards a peaceful future. As we pay tribute to the sacrifices of the past, we also look forward with hope.

Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister of New Zealand