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Devonport Anzac Day official service sacrificed

Flagstaff Team

Philosophical… Devonport RSA president Howard Mace says the sacrifice has been made to ensure the safety of the community

For the first time in a century, war veterans will not march down Victoria Rd and neither will there be a solemn service of remembrance at the Devonport cenotaph.

Police instigated the cancellation of Devonport’s Anzac Day ceremonies due to security concerns in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack.

At a meeting of the three North Shore RSA presidents and police, it was decided to hold just one service in Browns Bay.

“I was disappointed, of course,” said Devonport RSA president Howard Mace. “But we have to be pragmatic, and the advice we received from police is Browns Bay was the best place to secure.”

The Devonport cenotaph is surrounded by several roads, which makes security more problematic, Mace said.

The Anzac Day parades are of more concern to police than gatherings, such as concerts, because they take place on the streets and in public places, he said.

“You could have an idiot terrorist drive a truck through it.”

Asked why defence forces couldn’t provide security, Mace said it wasn’t just a question of personnel. Auckland Council would also need to be involved, for example, providing concrete barricades and other barriers.

An informal gathering will still take place at the Devonport RSA at Devonia Hall, 61 Victoria Rd at 10am. It has capacity for 150 people.

“The Devonport RSA will hold a small service inside, because it can be secured,” Mace said. The Navy band will be missing, but a Navy bugler and chaplain will attend, with Mace also saying a few words.

The Devonport cenotaph will still have a rack for floral wreaths and poppies.

Anzac Day services and commemorations have been held in New Zealand since 1916, when the Anzac Day holiday was gazetted.

Mace is unsure when the first Devonport service was held, but it was almost certainly before the Devonport RSA was set up in 1927.

Devonport’s druid Chris Mullane will act as MC and two Takapuna Grammar students will speak at the Browns Bay ceremony.

• A dawn parade will leave from the Browns Bay police station at 5.30am and proceed to the beach cenotaph. At 8.30am, the civic service will start with a second parade following the same route. People are advised to go early, as there will be road blocks and security checks.

This article originally appeared in the April 19 edition of The Devonport Flagstaff. Download PDF.