"Kia mau koe ki nga o ou tupuna - Hold fast to the words of your ancestors"
This whakatauki (proverb) reminds us to be guided by the wisdom of our elders and ancestors - their stories are our stories, not only shaping our culture and who we have become today but also guiding our future decisions and experiences.
Honouring our past is also the Geraldine Anzac Commemorations Trust's underlying philosophy. Specifically the Trust's purposes are focused on our history from World War One and its impact on New Zealand today, including:
- educating the community about the sacrifices of New Zealanders during WWl
- increasing public understanding of the role New Zealand's military heritage has played in shaping the country's society and culture; and
- encouraging diverse and widespread participation by the community in activities and events that help people to gain a better understanding of WWl and its impact on our society today.
The Geraldine Anzac Commemorations Trust is a registered charitable trust which was formed in 2013. The trust is governed by the four trustees: Max Millar (Chairperson), Wayne O'Donnell, Kerry Stevens and Colin Johnstone. These four trustees come from diverse backgrounds, but they share common passions for the wider Geraldine local community, our past and our future. They all firmly believe that acknowledging and honouring the contributions that military men and women have made for the benefit of all New Zealanders is a wonderful way to celebrate our past and also essential in helping current generations become better prepared for the future.
The aim is to create an Anzac Commemoration event that is for and run by the community involving several groups, clubs and organisations from Geraldine, Timaru and Ashburton.
The Geraldine ANZAC Commemorations Trust will create a major commemorative Anzac event every two years. The aim is to create a WWl themed event which is comprised of several entertaining and informative activities. Much emphasis is placed on family-friendly activities that have aspects which appeal to several generations, from children to Grandparents.
The first such Anzac event was held in 2014 and was a roaring success with attendance counted at 5,000+ people. It included participation by children and adults associated with : Geraldine Scouts, Timaru Air Training Corps, Geraldine Lions, Geraldine Historical Society, Geraldine Vintage Car & Machinery Museum, HQ 44 South Military Collectors Club, and the South Canterbury Traction Engine and Steam Club. Feedback from media coverage, families who attended, and groups who participated was unanimously glowing in their praise, exceeding all expectations.
In response to overwhelming feedback about the one-off event, the Trustees decided to host the event biennially. It returned in 2016 with a new name, Anzac in Action, and was held over 2 days, where it once again attracted around 5,000 people who loved the re-enactments, displays and hands-on flavour of the event which was supported by all the original groups from 2014 and more.
The Anzac in Action events are now firmly cemented in peoples minds as an opportunity to observe realistic battle re-enactments from both World Wars, see and experience vintage machinery displays and rides, watch model aircraft flights, view period displays provided by local museums, and take time to reflect in the field of poppies. Families have expressed pleasure in being able to enjoy a fun day out that offers learninng opportunities for their children while at the same time being very reasonably priced.
The diversity and range of displays and activities, all woven with the fabric of the times, meant that the story of the difficult war years could be experienced by the young and remembered by the old in a positive, fun and poignant way set against the backdrop of the stunning Southern Alps.
"Ma te huruhuru, te manu ka rere - With many feathers, the birds can fly"