Winner Caitlin Papuni McLellan and Governor General.
Caitlin Papuni McLellan from the Bay of Plenty has taken the winner’s trophy at the final of the ANZ RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition and will have the honour of delivering her speech at the centenary commemorations in Gallipoli in April.
The 16 year-old from Opotiki College gave an inspiring speech in Wellington today to edge out seven other competitors from around New Zealand.
However, in a departure from previous competitions this year to mark 100 years since troops landed in Gallipoli, all of Caitlin‘s fellow finalists will be joining her on the trip to Turkey.
The eight high school students will be travelling with a group of Youth Ambassadors attending the formal remembrances as an initiative of the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Craig Foss.
The national winner’s trophy was presented by The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir
Jerry Mateparae, RNZRSA National President, BJ Clark and ANZ General Manager Human Resources NZ, Felicity Evans.
Caitlin gave a personal and powerful speech about her relative Kurei Papuni and the mana and integrity of the Maori Contingent who fought at Gallipoli.
The students had six to eight minutes to speak about New Zealanders in World War One.
Mr Clark said that “the speakers this year were outstanding. We were all moved by the passion of the contestants in telling their stories of the heroic men and women of World War One.
“It’s tremendous to see the Anzac legacy being embraced by our young New Zealanders. They will carry the legacy forward and ensure the courage and selflessness of our Anzacs continues to be honoured for generations to come.”
The speech competition is a partnership between the RSA and ANZ to promote a greater understanding of the sacrifices made by those who have served New Zealand in conflicts overseas.
Now in its fifth year, it was established as a tribute to Cyril Bassett, VC (1892-1983) – the only New Zealander at Gallipoli to be awarded the Victoria Cross, who spent his entire career with ANZ Group.
Felicity Evans, ANZ General Manager Human Resources NZ, said the bank was proud to support the competition, 100 years after troops set foot in Gallipoli.
“This is a significant milestone in our country’s history. The Anzac legacy is part of our national identity and it’s important that we continue to remember and pay tribute to our fallen heroes.”
ANZ has a long association with the RSA and is also involved with the Fields of Remembrance Trust and the Government on a number of initiatives to mark the centenary year of World War One.
Each finalist has received the trip to Gallipoli, a smartphone, $1,000 in an ANZ bank account and a further $1,000 cheque for their school. In addition to these prizes, Caitlin has received a laptop and will have the honour of delivering her speech at Gallipoli.
Watch Caitlin’s winning speech at https://youtu.be/XDTGtdJaBEk
Full competition details are at http://prod1.rsa.org.nz/national-speech-competition