St Peter’s College has held its first dawn Anzac service and unveiled an honours board remembering former pupils who died while serving their country.

Within the past seven years New Zealand Defence Force members private Tristan McQueen (2022) and gunner Andrew Rance (2019) have died in car crashes, while private Morgan Fraser (2017) died in a climbing accident on Mt Taranaki.

The men were all under 25 years old.

The service was organised by the college’s boarding director New Zealand Army Reserve Sergeant Zane Langford.

Principal Tara Quinney welcomed about 70 people to the service including Gore and Districts Memorial RSA guests, parents and siblings of the late soldiers, staff and pupils.

The event was an opportunity to honour the fallen who had been prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, Mrs Quinney said.

Remembering. . . St Peter’s College principal Tara Quinney (left) and Kate Wilson the partner of the late private Tristan McQueen unveiled the honours board at the school during a dawn Anzac service organised by the school’s hostel manager New Zealand Army Reserve sergeant Zane Langford at the school on Monday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

‘‘Their legacy of selflessness and courage will continue to inspire generations to come.’’

It was also a chance for those attending to reaffirm their commitment to the community which was an important value of the school.

‘‘The belief that together we are stronger and together we can make a difference.

‘‘May this ceremony serve as a testament to our unity and our shared resolve to uphold the principles of justice, peace and compassion.’’

It was a time when people could reflect on their role as community members, Mrs Quinney said.

‘‘Let us also pledge to carry on the legacy of our fallen heroes by embracing the spirit of service and sacrifice in our own lives.

‘‘May we always strive to honour their memory through our actions and deeds ensuring their sacrifice was not in vain.’’

New Zealand Army chaplain Tony Harrison blessed the honours board after Mrs Quinney and Kate Wilson, the partner of Pte McQueen, unveiled it.

Sgt Langford said apart from being former pupils of the school, the men had other things in common.

‘‘They all made a commitment to put on the uniform of the New Zealand Army, to serve their country and protect those who were unable to protect themselves and they were all outstanding soldiers in their chosen trades, who had big futures ahead of them.

‘‘They were all taken from us far too early in tragic accidents.’’

Gore and Districts Memorial RSA president Bradley Bridgman said he thought the service was a ‘‘great initiative’’.

‘‘It’s good to see the involvement of our ex and current serving members. ‘‘It brings the whole tradition of remembrance not only for our Anzacs but also our current and serving personnel but we are also remembering . . .those who have passed in the serving of their country that didn’t deploy.

‘‘They’ve signed the dotted line and put themselves out there for that ultimate sacrifice.’’

The meaning of veteran was changing nowadays, as Defence Force personnel did not only serve overseas.

‘‘We’ve had so many people. . .who have deployed internally now on operations in the protection of peace in our country — earthquakes, floods and the Covid response.

‘‘So we’ve got multiple operations happening around the world and internally.’’

Members of the Fraser family, including his father Glen, were also at the service.

‘‘It was great that Tristan was honoured and the other soldiers as well,’’ Ms Wilson said.

‘‘It was good the school recognises the boys that have passed away,’’ Mr Fraser said.