The ANZAC story fosters New Zealand as a multicultural Nation

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Anzac Day National Commemoration Ceremony April 25, 2022 in Wellington (Internal Affairs Photo by Mark Tantrum)

Melissa Lee
Wellington, April 25, 2022

Anzac Day is a day of reflection for our nation no matter which of our over 213+ ethnicities, religions and communities you belong to.

The comradery of the ANZAC message reaches out to all faiths and people in New Zealand in the spirit of service. New Zealand’s ANZAC spirit is one of a multicultural identity under the Southern Cross and devoted to the bonds of friendship between New Zealand and those we as New Zealanders protect. It is a character that perpetuates in the course of freedom and sacrifice in the cause of the freedoms of others regardless of their nationality.

ANZAC Day reinforces the multiculturalism of New Zealand
(Internal Affairs Photo by Mark Tantrum)

The ANZAC will is not one of celebration or sadness, it is one of comradery and strength. It is emblematic of the memory of all those young men and women who have fallen for New Zealand since our nationhood. The service of soldiers from New Zealand to the Commonwealth and foreign shores to save others and protect their homeland forged our nationhood.

The story of early migrant settlers of the 19th and early 20th century joining the New Zealand contingents of the First World War despite racial and religious intolerance of the time no doubt makes their service harsher and particularly poignant.

They sailed for Egypt, Gallipoli and the Western Front in the cause of service and the knowledge of their duty to others. Jagt|Tagt Singh, an early Indian migrant to New Zealand from the Punjab Province, chose to join other New Zealanders in service fighting across the Middle East. Sgt Major Victor Thomas Low served at Arras and Marne through to the close of the war alongside his brother Norman who fought at Gallipoli and the Somme. Their addition to the New Zealand ANZAC legacy perpetuates through the message New Zealand in Bulford nestled on the hills of England, A large white chalk Kiwi Victor mapped out as part of the New Zealand Army Education Unit stationed in Salisbury Plain at the close of the Great War. Their Chinese ancestry made no difference to their valour as veterans of New Zealand.

National Party List MP Melissa Lee

More recently, the service of Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand as Governor-General of New Zealand and Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief and the initiation of Louis Singh Khalsa Talbot as the first baptised Sikh to join the New Zealand Defence Force in recent times are testaments to the continuing progression of the Anzac story into our modern multicultural nation. The story of our Anzac Spirit is a story of cultural identity. It is a story for all of us as New Zealanders no matter where we have come from because our communities all have their own identity in the story of service.

My personal Anzac story is being the descendant of those affected by the Korean War, losing family members to the ongoing conflict on the Korean Peninsula. My story is one as a journalist and now a Member of Parliament, celebrating the stories of our veterans across New Zealand and commemorating their legacy and their families.

Homage to War Veterans in Wellington on April 25, 2022
(Internal Affairs Photo by Mark Tantrum)

Every New Zealander has an Anzac story in their life. If you have yet to find yours, I recommend that you walk down to your local school, church or library to start. There, among the flagstones and grounds, you may find a memorial to the names of those who served and stood where you stand today. The Online Cenotaph is a permanent digital memorial to those who have served. Look to these community memorials and you will find those same names etched not only in granite but also in data as a part of our nation’s heritage and legacy.

No matter where you are this Anzac day one thing is clear,

We remember them.

Mellissa Lee is a Member of Parliament on National List and the Party’s Spokesperson for Broadcasting & Media, Digital Economy and Communications and Ethnic Communities.

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