About Anzac Day
When is Anzac Day in New Zealand?
This holiday marks the anniversary of the first key military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The troops in those forces became known as Anzacs, and the pride in the name endures to this day.
History of Anzac Day in New Zealand
In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of the Germans. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. The assault rapidly became a stalemate, dragging on for 8 months. By the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties. Around 14,000 soldiers from New Zealand were involved in the fighting and of these, 2,700 were killed and 4,852 injured.
Despite the defeat and heavy losses, Anzac Day is a day of pride and to reflect on the contribution of New Zealand to the world and to remember the sacrifice of all those who have died in battle for their country.
The date was officially named Anzac Day in 1916 and was a half-day public holiday marked at the time by range of ceremonies and services held throughout New Zealand.
In 1922, Anzac Day became established as a national day of commemoration for New Zealanders who died during the great war.
Since then, Anzac Day has grown to become the day on which New Zealanders acknowledge the service and sacrifice of all people involved in military conflicts. It commemorates over 300,000 New Zealanders who served their country and the 30,000 who have died in service.
Like the British Remembrance Day tradition, poppies are worn to signify support for the soldiers who lost their lives. Sometimes Anzac Day is called Poppy Day, but Poppy Day, when the poppies go on sale, is usually the Friday before Anzac Day.