"Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."
- Ataturk (inscribed on a memorial at Gallipoli, Turkey)
It is a very special day for New Zealanders and Australians today. It is ANZAC Day - the day where we take the time to remember all those who have served, and still serve our two countries. It is about reflection and also about celebrating the special bond that New Zealand and Australia have. Sure, we have a rivalry (sometimes friendly and sometimes less so!) but when the going gets tough we have each other's backs and I love that.
It is a privilege to be able to perform every year at the Christchurch civilian's service, and something I always look forward to.
2013 also marks ten years since we toured England with the National Youth Band of New Zealand, an amazing three weeks culminating in a performance in the ANZAC Day service at Westminster Abbey. Cannot believe it has been ten years! That was a particularly special ANZAC Day, as was 2008, when we travelled to Turkey to be at ANZAC Cove. We arrived by bus the day before and then sat outside all through the cold night, before participating in the dawn service and NZ Service at Chunuk Bair. I found the whole experience to be extremely moving and hope to return one day.