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Defence Force ceremony wows Anzac League fans

A sold-out Go Media Stadium in Auckland resonated with Anzac pride on Thursday, thanks to a polished New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) showcase.

26 April, 2024

The Anzac Day match, between the One New Zealand Warriors and the Gold Coast Titans, served up a classic which went down to the wire. The Titans ultimately holding off a valiant late comeback from the Warriors to win 27-24.

Before the match kicked off, spectators were treated to a curtain-raiser match between the New Zealand Defence Force and the New Zealand Police Women’s Rugby League teams.

The official Anzac ceremony, with Lieutenant Mark Hadlow RNZNVR as Master of Ceremonies, was preceded by a RNZAF A109 helicopter landing on the field to deliver the match ball.

The New Zealand Army Band, who recently celebrated their 60th anniversary, led proceedings on the field, as Navy Basic Common Trainees (BCT) carried in gigantic flags of New Zealand and Australia.

A Navy guard of honour welcomed the two teams onto the field.

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Private Hayden Cullen of the NZ Army Band, played the Last Post from the ‘hill’ - a grassy elevated part of the stadium.

The Ode of Remembrance then followed in both te reo Māori and English, before a moment’s silence and the playing of the Australian and New Zealand national anthems.

The entertainment continued at half time, with the RNZAF Dog team demonstrating how their Military Working Dogs are trained to bring down an offender.

Lieutenant Commander Sarah Campbell, Initial Training Officer Leadership Development Group, said she was so proud of the Navy trainees.

“They were amazing considering they’ve only been in the Navy for 10 weeks. It shows the discipline and how well they have picked up the Navy way of life.” It had been a big day for the trainees, who had marched in the Devonport Anzac Parade that morning.

LT Hadlow said everyone looked amazing. “When those BCTs marched on to the sound of the NZ Army Band, I thought, what an extraordinary experience in front of 30,000 people. I was so proud to be part of the NZDF that day. The partnership between the NZDF and Warriors management was exemplary. Everyone involved wanted to make sure the NZDF was at its best.”