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Devonport stands tall with independent Anzac service

Flagstaff Team

Defiant Devonport… Chris Mullane (in beret) and Denese Henare lead the service

A crowd of several hundred attended the renegade Devonport Anzac Day service.

The official service – which had been held annually for around a century – was canned when Auckland Council and the police consolidated remembrance events in the region at Browns Bay, to safeguard the public against the possibility of a terrorist strike.

We will remember them… The large crowd outside Devonport Library

Devonport RSA past-president Chris Mullane led proceedings at the event.

“Welcome to the Devonport fringe community service on Anzac Day, otherwise known as the alternative ceremony,” he said.

“The reason it is happening is because of the spirit of Devonport,” he said, to the applause of the crowd.

Ninety-five years ago, the war memorial outside Devonport Library was unveiled by the Governor General.

Devonport RSA members Johnnie Walker, Wendy Aranga, Lt Cmdr Mark Longstaff (RNZNR ), Joan Venus, Kathleen Whatuira

The memorial was paid for by donations from the people of Devonport, as an important way to honour those who had served in the armed forces and the families who had lost loved ones, Mullane said.

The right to commemorate Anzac Day in Devonport belongs to the community, he said. “2019 should be no different from any other year.”

The service was held without a public address system, but a bugler, Peter Reid, and bagpiper, Brian Switalla, both played. District Court Judge Denese Henare read the Ode of Remembrance in Te Reo Maori.

Devonport RSA member Mike Ashmore

A number of floral tributes were laid, including those from the Devonport RSA and Takapuna Grammar School, and a combined wreath from Kristin School and Westlake Girls High School. Poppies were presented in the trays on the memorial.

The service ended with the singing of the National Anthem.

Devonport RSA member Jimmy Jones
Students marking the occasion… Tristram Speedy and Tayla Woolley (Youth MP North Shore) representing Kristin and Westlake Girls schools
Takapuna Grammar School’s prefect Amelia Price and head boy Ethan Dawes

This article originally appeared in the May 3 edition of The Devonport Flagstaff. Download PDF.