Poppy Day the key to remembrance and support

LEST WE FORGET: Remembering the Anzacs with a poppy.
LEST WE FORGET: Remembering the Anzacs with a poppy.

Collectors will be out in force today for Poppy Day.

The annual appeal helps the RSA support veterans and the families of service people who are in need.

Poppies are the first flowers that grew in the battlefields of Flanders in Belgium during World War I and are a symbol of remembrance and hope. New Zealand's first Poppy Day was held in 1922.

Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom celebrate the day on Armistice Day in November. New Zealand was planning to follow suit, but the ship carrying the first lot of poppies from France in 1921 arrived too late and so the Friday before Anzac Day was selected.

RSA chief executive Stephen Clarke says 91 years later New Zealanders still strongly support the appeal.

Last year it raised $1.8 million which is its second largest collection ever.

Mr Clarke says there are around 15,000 Kiwis who have served overseas since the 1990s in places like Bosnia, East Timor and Afghanistan.

There are also still more than 10,000 living World War II veterans.

"At the younger end they are in their late 80s and some are over 100. There is still a big need," Mr Clarke says.

If you see a collector on the street, or outside the shops show your support.

Fairfax Media, owner of this newspaper, has produced a stunning Anzac commemorative magazine. Get your copy in the April 21 edition of our sister publication, the Sunday Star-Times.

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