Ralph Williams

High security for Anzac Day

by Paul Campbell

Kaipara’s Anzac Day commemorations will take place under tight security measures as a precaution following the Christchurch mosque massacres with armed police at all events, actively supported by emergency services personnel.

In Dargaville on Thursday, April 25, the annual Town Hall civic service at mid-morning has been cancelled, while the RSA Dawn Parade will continue.

“The high-security alert for Anzac ceremonies was not the main reason for cancelling the service although it was taken into account,” said Kaipara District Council spokesperson, Ben Hope. “We are cancelling it this year, given that in previous years we have run multiple events in Dargaville on the same day. Council would like to help the RSA by supporting their dawn parade, this year. It is possible that given the attendance and feedback from the community we may look to bring back a civic ceremony.”

He said all the organisations involved including the RSA were consulted before making the decision. Other Anzac events across Kaipara will continue as normal but all with a high-security presence.

At The Kauri Museum at Matakohe, the service and parade will go ahead under the auspices of Paparoa RSA and its president Ralph Williams says “everyone is left with the choice of attending Anzac services or not.

“Those in military service who were sent overseas to defend our country weren’t given the chance to go where they wished. By the same token, they fought for the freedom of choice. I would hope that the numbers on the day will actually tend to increase to show our utter contempt towards the horrific actions of one madman.“

In Dargaville the dawn parade and service will be followed by a breakfast at the Northern Wairoa RSA, said president Dave Fagan.

He said police officers normally marched along with fire officers and St John staff. To have the police armed would not make any difference.

Northland police inspector Al Symonds said police had not advised any cancellation of parades and while they were discussing safety with RSAs, there were no major security concerns in the region.

“The national threat level is high, but there is no specific intelligence to suggest that there is a particular threat in Northland. However, we are not going to take that chance.

“The main aim is to make people feel safe and, yes, there will be armed cops out there.”

Across the country, police are involved in a post-Christchurch initiative called Operation Whakahaumanu, a revitalisation exercise aimed at reassuring communities after the March 15 terrorist shootings.

“Any concerns and people should contact us, and we are happy to give advice. We just want people to carry on with their lives without any worries,” said Inspector Symonds.