Dozens of Anzac Day events in New Zealand have been cancelled amid heightened security fears, but organisers in terror-struck Christchurch say they won’t be scared away.
Police will also maintain a visible presence at Anzac Day gatherings to allay fears and ensure public safety.
Only 26 commemorations will go ahead in Auckland this month, compared with 84 last year, as organisers from Returned and Services’ Associations (RSAs) consolidate gatherings over lingering security fears after the March 15 shootings at two Christchurch mosques.
Auckland Council said the dramatic reduction in events this year was necessary to ensure police resources were not stretched.
“In the current heightened security environment, police have agreed to maintain a visible presence at events for public reassurance,” said an Auckland Council statement.
“As a result, police had recommended that Anzac Day events in Auckland be consolidated so that they could adequately resource each public gathering.”
While police did not enforce the cancellation of events, they had been talking to co-ordinators and recommending events been merged for public safety.
“Consolidating events for this year’s commemorations enables police to ensure resources are deployed appropriately across services,” Superintendent Karyn Malthus said.
“There is no information about a specific threat to Anzac events at this time. However it’s important that the public be safe and feel safe.”
The largest event, at Auckland’s War Memorial Museum, is still set to go ahead.
Those who died in WW1 & WW2 remembered in New Zealand on poppy day. This year under the specter of National Socialist terroristic fears. – Nearly 60 Anzac Day events in Auckland scrapped over security concerns, via @nzherald https://t.co/w3Im36hHxs
— Christopher (@chrisusanz) April 9, 2019
Armed police continue to maintain a heavy presence around New Zealand following the terror attack that killed 50.
But in Christchurch itself, organisers say events will take place as planned.
Local RSA president Peter Dawson said while he understood the reasoning in Auckland, due to the higher population, his organisation had opted to continue.
“We believe we have a duty to those that went before us to continue with Anzac Day and get back to normality as soon as we can, he told Radio NZ.
“We don’t believe we’d be honouring that sacrifice if we allowed one person to destroy that faith, that heritage and that commemoration.”
Police are expected to provide bus barricades and checkpoints at the event.
Events in Wellington and Dunedin are expected to go ahead as well.