Volunteer armies clean veteran graves ahead of Anzac Day

Two armies of volunteers kitted with brushes and buckets has set off on a mission to clean the graves of our veterans on Saturday.

The Student Volunteer Army partnered with the New Zealand Remembrance Army ahead of Anzac Day.

Ella, Thomas and Holly - three siblings ensuring three fallen brothers are appropriately commemorated.

"It's really important that we restore the graves because it means the soldiers who served can be remembered," Ella said.

The restoration of memorial headstones is to honour Wellington-raised Watkin, Samuel and Tom Lewis who died during WWI, but whose bodies never came home.

It's believed Watkin was wounded within hours of arriving at Gallipoli in August 1915 and later died. His brother Tom passed away at sea after being wounded in the same battle. The youngest brother Samuel was killed in France in early 1918.

The significance of this job is not lost.

"I think it's super important because you can actually see where they've been and what they did," Holly said.

It's important to many, with 500 volunteers across 30 locations around New Zealand doing their bit to clean the memorials of past servicewomen and men.

"The real question is why wouldn't you do it? Served for us, it's the least we owe to them," said Will Holmes, from the Student Volunteer Army.

The work is coordinated by the New Zealand Remembrance Army which has been doing it for five years.

"A lot of people go to parades and say lest we forget, but as you can today the state of the graves, we do forget. These kids have cleaned them all up which is fantastic," said Simon Strombom, from the New Zealand Remembrance Army.

It's estimated there are over 350,000 service graves in New Zealand.

"Today we found one more trying to clear another grave," Strombom added.

This grave is of Thomas Craig who was the bootmaker for the Wellington Regiment, and used to work at Hannah's shoes. He ended up being awarded the meritorious service medal for his boot making.

The public is being urged to roll up their sleeves to help pay their respects.

"They could come in and maybe give them a spray of water or check them out, see the history. Maybe they have a family member they could come and see," Ella said.

And prevent the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice from being forgotten.