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NZ'S FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY 2014–2019

Youth debate to mark centenary of the Treaty of Versailles

21 June 2019
Three youth debaters standing in Parliament's Grand Hall

Isobel Scherf (Queen Margaret College), Adam Muir (Wellington College) and Peter Lang (Scots College) are three of the students taking part in the Treaty of Versailles centenary debate

Some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s top secondary school debaters will consider New Zealand’s global role in a debate at Parliament on Thursday (27 June) to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Although fighting in the First World War ceased with the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the brutal conflict formally ended when the Allies and Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in Paris on 28 June 1919. 

“The Treaty of Versailles was the first international treaty New Zealand signed in its own right. It represented an important milestone on our road to nationhood, and to becoming an independent and active member of the global community,” says Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Executive Bernadette Cavanagh.

In the centenary debate, which is being hosted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, students will consider the motion: ‘Global issues need global solutions, and the global rules-based multilateral system is the way to achieve them’.

“The modern multilateral system began with international institutions such as the League of Nations that were created by the Treaty of Versailles. 100 years on, it’s important to reflect on New Zealand’s place in the world – where we’ve come from, and where we’re going.  It’s fitting to have the voices of young people centre stage in this conversation,” says Ms Cavanagh.

The Treaty of Versailles also established the International Labour Organisation (ILO), of which New Zealand was a founding member. The ILO, now a United Nations agency, brings together governments, employers and workers to set labour standards and promote decent work for all.

Both the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rt Hon Winston Peters will address attendees at the Treaty of Versailles centenary event.

The Treaty of Versailles centenary event will be livestreamed via the WW100 Facebook page from 9am on Thursday 27 June 2019. 

ENDS