At the invitation of the President of the French Republic, four young kiwis departed for France at 6pm on Friday 4 July. They join two hundred youth representatives in the Bastille Day Parade, which marches the length of the Champs Elysee 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 ready for the requirements of representing New Zealand in this international event. “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 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.
Fluency in French was part of the selection criteria for the New Zealand youth representatives. You can follow their daily activities and reflections, in English, on New Zealand's WW100 Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WW100NZ
“It is important for our generation to remember the sacrifice and suffering that took place during the First World War,” says Isabel Kerr. To represent New Zealand and our generation in the Parade will be an absolutely incredible experience.”
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.
Photo (from left to right): Milan Djurich, Aria Newfield, Isabel Kerr and Alexander Summerlee.