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Australia | ANZAC

Rangatahi join Australians for Anzac Day high school event

Four students have been selected to represent Aotearoa

For the past 60 years a commemorative Anzac Day service has been held for high schools in Australia.

This year, four rangatahi from Tāmaki Makaurau have been chosen to represent Aotearoa at the Newcastle and Hunter Combined Schools Anzac Day Service to match this year’s theme about the relationship between the two countries.

More than 3000 students and teachers are expected to attend the event, which will be held at the Civic Theatre Newcastle, Australia, on April 9.

Anzac Day commemorates the soldiers from both countries who fought together as the Australia New Zealand Army Corps in World War I for the first time and these days also commemorates participants in more recent wars.

Artistic director/producer and teacher of the four students, Emma Bishop (Ngāpuhi), said the students were chosen because they each had family history of serving in the military.

“We all whakapapa Māori but we also all whakapapa back with a military past.”

The students are Māui Hitchens (Tuhoe, Ngāti Porou),Tia Ormsby (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Porou, Ngā Puhi), Poppy Aislabie (Te Aitanga a Mahaki) and Jakoby Herrick (Ngāti whatua o Kaipara, Ngā Puhi).

She said as part of the event high school students interviewed past servicemen who fought in wars overseas.

“Last year’s theme was on families of war and the Australian kids had interviewed wives of past servicemen.

“At the moment, they’re interviewing a New Zealand veteran who lives in Twizel, who was part of a Vietnam mission that saved the lives of four Australians.”

The students will put together a performance with the theme in mind from their interviews.

In preparation for the event, the group had their first visit to Australia back in November.

Bishop said the Australian schools were impressed by how her students had introduced themselves in te reo Māori.

“I think the Australian kids were quite blown away when four students stood up and did their little introduction. They all did it in te reo, which was great.”

Bishop said the students were put into research groups with different topics to explore and study.

“It was purely a planning exercise and getting to know each other for the first time and then weekly rehearsals on Zoom since January.”

Bishop had hoped to have the Tino Rangatiratanga flag raised alongside the other flags at the event because Australia last year had two raised flags.

“Last year they only had one New Zealand flag. I raised with them the fact that we needed our flag up.”

“But this year they have actually said that they are pulling it back just to having the two national flags.”

They will have an opening karakia instead.

She said the group would be fundraising for the trip to Australia next month.


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