Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae has reflected on the diversity of Anzac troops at Gallipoli and of the New Zealanders who gather to honour them.
"Only recently, I learned about one group of New Zealanders whose story is not widely known - our Chinese Anzacs," Sir Jerry said at the dawn service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington.
"A New Zealand-Chinese soldier - Private James George Paterson of Otahuhu was amongst the first fatalities at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Paterson was an Anzac," he said.
He said New Zealanders have their origins in very different cultures, speak different languages, and worship in different ways.
"What we all share in our histories is a tragic legacy of armed conflict and war," he said.
"Surely we all wish it were otherwise. Surely, our hope is that there will be a time when war and conflict are consigned to history.
"And while this may seem a lofty aspiration, surely it is incumbent on us to pursue it."
But the reality is we still need people who are prepared to serve their country in our Defence Force in our navy, army and air force, he said.
It was a "sacred ritual" to gather at dawn on Anzac Day, because that is what the men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps did when they first landed on the beaches of Gallipoli, 101 years ago.
"On this 100th Anzac Day, as the first shafts of light appear in the sky, let us renew our vow to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who came home changed by their experiences. We should also affirm our hope for a more peaceful and caring world," he said.
"It is a sacred ritual for us to meet at dawn on this day."
Sir Jerry, a former soldier, said the commemorations of the centenary of the first Anzac service had cast a spotlight on events that changed our nation forever.
"As the first shafts of light appear in the sky, let us renew our vow to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who came home changed by their experiences," he said.
Numbers were down on last year when the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings drew record crowds to services around the country.
Among the guests were Australian High Commissioner Peter Woolcott and the Turkish ambassador Damla Yesim Say.
In Auckland, the weekend's rain gave way to a crisp way to an Autumn morning as thousands gathered at the War Memorial Museum.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee is attending services on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
A large attendance is expected at the National Service of Commemoration in Wellington later in the morning.
This year marks 101 years since Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed at Gallipoli on April 25 in 1915