Anzac fighting for freedom and democracy2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Poignant memories were shared on Anzac Day in Onehunga, with the war in Ukraine uppermost in people’s minds. The Onehunga RSA held its annual Remembrance Service upstairs at the World War I memorial, and while numbers were slightly down from pre-Covid services, it was standing room only, with a few hundred people attending, including many families.
Special guest was the Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff, who said he had wanted to spend his last Anzac Day as Mayor at Onehunga RSA, in memory of the members of his family who had died in war.
Mayor Goff spoke first of his two great uncles who died in World War I, however he said his motivation for coming to Onehunga was primarily because of his Uncle John, who he never met. Phil’s father and two brothers grew up in Onehunga and despite working in reserved occupations, all volunteered to fight in World War II. John, who lied about his age and joined up at 17, was killed in 1944. Mayor Goff spoke about John’s photo being a permanent fixture in the family homes, and how his grandmother’s grief at losing her son never faded.
He also spoke about the trauma of watching his sister experience the same grief after her son was killed in Afghanistan while serving in the US Army.
Finally, he paid tribute to the resistance of the people of Ukraine in the face of another aggressive invader. He pointed out that they are fighting to protect the same freedom and democracy that the Anzacs had fought for in two World Wars.
Club Onehunga president, Stephen Phillips, said that while it was disappointing they were unable to organise a parade due to the timing of restrictions, he was still delighted with the turnout for the service. The club had been unsure how this would affect the day, but the numbers that attended were a good sign things were returning to normality.
He also promised that there would be a parade next year and Club Onehunga would continue to remember the sacrifice of past generations, “We haven’t forgotten them and we never will.”