At the invitation of François Hollande, the President of the French Republic, four young kiwis departed for France on Friday 4 July. They join two hundred youth representatives in the Bastille Day Parade, which marches the length of the Champs-Élysées on 14 July. The Parade is themed to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.
Aria Newfield and Milan Djurich from Auckland, Isabel Kerr from Wellington and Alexander Summerlee from Christchurch are representing New Zealand in this international event.
Isabel Kerr was selected to address French President François Hollande and all youth representatives, ambassadors and military officers. Isabel spoke about the enormous impact World War One had on New Zealand as well as the importance of acknowledging and commemorating those who served during the Great War.
“It is important for our generation to remember the sacrifice and suffering that took place during the First World War,” says Kerr. “To represent New Zealand and our generation in the Parade will be an absolutely incredible experience.”
The role New Zealand soldiers played through to the end of the First World War is still remembered in towns across France and Belgium. Along with youth representatives, three New Zealand military personnel will carry the Regimental Colour of the 2nd/1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, in the Bastille Day parade.
“My grandfather’s uncles both served in the First World War,” says Aria Newfield. “They were part of the largest war effort New Zealand has ever made. I’m also looking forward to the cultural programme and the international youth group activities looking at peace and reconciliation.”
The Bastille Day Parade Youth Programme is funded by the French and New Zealand governments and supported by the WW100 Programme Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Youth Development and the New Zealand Defence Force.
The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson will attend the Bastille Day Parade as a representative of the New Zealand government.
Further information is available online at WW100.govt.nz/youth-at-bastille-day.
You can follow the group’s daily activities and reflections, on New Zealand's WW100 Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WW100NZ.
Updated on 23rd July 2015