Is it time for the Tamahere community to commemorate ANZAC Day in Tamahere?
Tamahere men who fought and died in World War I number 27, as recorded on the roll of honour displayed in the Tamahere Community Centre. Twenty-one served in World War II.
The question of whether Tamahere could hold a dedicated ANZAC commemoration service arose in a chance conversation on this year’s ANZAC Day between two locals who are now seeking more views.
Green Party Waikato candidate Philippa Stevenson, also Tamahere Forum’s editor, raised the prospect of a service in Tamahere with St Stephen’s Tamahere Vicar Ellen Bernstein and got an enthusiastic response.
“Ever since I joined the Tamahere School pupils in their solemn observance at the school in 2015 I’ve thought it would be appropriate to observe ANZAC Day in Tamahere,” Rev Bernstein said.
“We read the roll of honour in church on Sunday [April 23] as we used that service as our ANZAC commemoration. It was terribly poignant to stand for so long as the list of names was read of those from Tamahere who fell in the Great War.”
Stevenson, whose family lost two great uncles in WWI and an uncle in WWII – all around the age of 30, has nursed the idea of a Tamahere service since attending ANZAC Day services at Gallipoli in 2001.
“Going to Gallipoli is one of the most moving things I’ve ever done. To see that narrow strip of beach and the towering hills above ANZAC Cove is to know how futile the campaign was,” she said. “Then to read the plaques on the graves of men – or boys – as young as 18 who died so far away from home is just heartbreaking.
“But for me, ANZAC Day is a time to remember the tragedy of all war and to commit annually to non-violence and peaceful ways to end conflict. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather contemplate such things than right here at home in Tamahere.”
Rev Bernstein said that in past ANZAC services St Stephen’s children had located all the graves and memorial stones of returned service personnel in the church cemetery and honoured them with a poppy. “There are quite a few!” she said.
The pair are keen to get feedback on whether other Tamahere people would welcome and attend an ANZAC Day commemoration, and what kind of ceremony they’d like.
Possibilities are a service in the St Stephen’s cemetery or in the community centre. The time of day of the service would also need to be considered.
“Whether or not history justifies the causes of the wars in which we have fought, I believe it is right to honour those who believed in defending our freedom,” Rev Bernstein said.
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