• Maurice (Muzz) Kennett, President of Devonport RSA
  • Devonport Anzac Day Parade 2023
  • Devonport RSA President Muzz Kennett with granddaughter Poppy
  • Early morning shadows along Browns Bay for the East Coast Bays Anzac parade 2023
  • East Coast Bays Anzac parade 2023
  • Bagpipers at the East Coast Bays Anzac parade 2023

Anzac Day on the Shore

As Anzac Day approaches at the end of the month, many Shore locals prepare to take part in Anzac Day commemorations. Christine Young takes a quick look at some local military reminders and connections, and talks to representatives from local Returned and Services Associations (RSAs) about their plans for 2024 commemorations.

Anzac Day as we now know it began to take shape in New Zealand soon after news filtered through of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey on 25 April 2016. Within a few years, core elements of the day had been established, memorials erected in communities up and down the country, books (from serious histories to illustrated picture books for young people) have been written, and the tradition of a dawn service and a military parade has evolved over the years, attended by not just returned service men and women but increasingly by families remembering those who fought and died at Gallipoli, and those who have fought in subsequent conflicts from World War II, to Korea, Vietnam and in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Here on the Shore, the Anzac tradition is strong. Though there may not be as many RSAs as there once were, the three that remain are active and together plan complementary Anzac commemorations.

In Devonport, home to the New Zealand Navy since 1841, those who attend the annual Anzac Day parade can also take time to reflect on other conflicts in which the navy and the country have been involved, and on the strong military links in the suburb. On the commemorative sea wall, a plaque celebrates the end of the Boer War in 1902. On King Edward Parade, the majestic Elizabeth House at number 5, now apartments, serves as a reminder that it was requisitioned during WWII to house the Wrens (Women's Royal NZ Naval Service). Further along the waterfront, a plaque commemorates the murder of the commanding officer of the naval base and his family, and further yet, just before the Navy Museum, is Torpedo Bay, where torpedo boats docked as the country anticipated a conflict with Tsarist Russia in the 1880s.

But back to 2024. Devonport Anzac commemorations centre around a parade marching from Fleet Street to the Devonport War Memorial (see side bar for details). Devonport RSA President Muzz Kennett says the parade is well attended by Devonport RSA veterans and members, representatives from the local board, Royal New Zealand Navy, the public, Sea Cadets, Air Cadets, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, local schools, Devonport Volunteer Fire Brigade, and representatives from many other community groups.

Like other areas, Devonport has noticed an increase in numbers attending over the years. “I think that schools, parents and community groups understand the importance of remembering those who have served and fought for New Zealand. Many wear medals awarded to their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. I think it gives us all a sense of nationhood and acknowledges the sacrifice of those who have served and are serving.”

While the Anzac Day focus remains on the horrific loss of life at Gallipoli, the emphasis is slowly changing. Muzz Kennett thinks, “Anzac Day will always be embedded in the WWI and WWII history. However, more recent conflicts are now acknowledged at the ceremonies. Devonport RSA places special focus on recent veterans at our Remembrance Day commemoration ceremony in November.”

Other commemorations also broaden the focus: “In addition to Anzac Day and Remembrance Day commemorations,” says Muzz, “Devonport RSA has recently introduced Purple Poppy Day commemorations into our calendar. Purple Poppy Day commemorates the animals that served [during conflict].“

Alisdair Martin, President of East Coast Bays RSA, says East Coast Bays commemorations are attended, as in Devonport, by a wide cross section of the community, and that there has been a similar increase in numbers attending. “There has of course been a notable reduction of the numbers of veterans that attend each year. However, there has been a large increase in the numbers of the public and community groups attending. It is also well supported by current serving members of the NZDF and emergency services, cadet units, local schools and community groups.

“There has been a greater number of younger people attending commemorations,” he adds, “and this has always been the case in East Coast Bays. It has actually always been well supported by younger people and all age groups for that matter. I believe it is because local schools and community groups actively encourage keeping the memory alive of the reason we have Anzac Day. The ECB RSA is also very active in the local community and supports multiple charities and local groups. In doing this it also keeps the ECB RSA in the forefront of the local community.”

Easy Coast Bays RSA commemorations start early, with a 5.30am parade and dawn service at 5.45am. This is the combined Anzac Day service which is also attended by Devonport and Birkenhead RSAs.

A citizen’s parade in Brown’s Bay follows at 8.15am (see side bar for details).

“In our services, we commemorate everyone not just WW1 and subsequent wars,” says Alisdair. “Anzac Day should encompass all wars, conflicts and those who have been forever changed by their experiences. It is very important to recognise everyone for that matter, not just at an individual level, but also at a family level who may also have been forever changed by their experiences.”

The early parade marches along Beachfront Lane to the Brown’s Bay War Memorial, where the service takes place before participants adjourn to the Bays Club for breakfast rolls provided by ECB RSA. This is primarily for veterans, former and current service men and women, RSA members, uniformed personnel, medal wearers, and people who took part in the service (Long Bay College students and guardians, who sang at the service, Ode, and Rangitoto College students and guardians, who spoke at the service). Other local cafes open early for the general public, and ECB RSA encourages everyone to support these local business owners.

The 8.15 citizen’s parade follows the same route, with the service also taking place at the War Memorial. The Bays Club and Speakers Corner Ale House open as meeting venues after. ECB RSA has booked live music at The Bays Club: 3Decibelles from 9am to 11am and Sandy from 11am to 2pm.

Weather permitting, a pre- or post-parade walk in the Bays, as in Devonport, can also remind you that no part of the Shore has been spared close contact with military operations. The family-friendly walk along the Castor Bay to Kennedy Point walkway is rich in military history: though the entire coast from Torbay south was fortified with defenses, including pillboxes along the coastline and hills, and barbed wire ditches, the largest fortification in East Coast Bays was the Castor Bay (Kennedy Point) battery and camp, which was disguised as a state housing project, evidence of which can still be seen today.

Alisdair Martin firmly believes that the focus on Anzac Day will not change and the memories of WW1 and Gallipoli and other campaigns will always carry on in the minds of all New Zealanders for future generations to come”. 

So whether you attend one of the parades or services on the Shore, or simply take the opportunity on Anzac Day to get outside and contemplate the rich reminders we have in the area of a more turbulent and terrifying past than the era we now live in, Anzac Day is a day  for reflection on how much so many have done to protect New Zealand and our way of life.


Anzac Day parades and services

Note: Road closures will be in place for all Anzac Day parades and services – check with Auckland Council for details.


  • 10.30am Muster in Fleet St
  • 10.45am Parade march off
  • 11am Service at the Devonport Memorial of the Untidy Soldier. Veteran and children's seating available in front of the memorial


  • 8.30am Parade assembly – Sanders Ave
  • 9am Service at 1-7 The Strand. Light refreshments after at Takapuna War Memorial Hall


  • 10.15am Parade assembly – Queen St near Bridgeway Theatre
  • 10.45am Service at Northcote War memorial Hall, Rodney Road


  • 9.30am Parade assembly - Mokoia Road between Huka Road and Colonial Road
  • 10am Service at Birkenhead War Memorial Park Cenotaph


  • 11.10am Parade assembly – Ross Avenue
  • 11.30am Service at Glenfield War Memorial. Light refreshments after at Takapuna War Memorial Hall

East Coast Bays Dawn parade

East Coast Bays – Citizens parade

  • 8.15am Parade Assembly – corner of Anzac Road and Beachfront Lane
  • 8.45am Citizens Service.
  • 10am After service venues – Bays Club/Speakers Corner Ale House