The RSA is delighted at the announcement made by Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse today, that all eight regional finalists of the 2015 ANZ RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition will be included in a group of 25 Youth Ambassadors commemorating the centenary of Anzac Day in Gallipoli.
In previous years the national winner of the competition has travelled to Gallipoli to represent New Zealand youth. RSA National President, Don McIver, says the decision to also include the regional finalists recognizes the extraordinary caliber of the secondary school students who take part in the competition, and adds a special dimension to the already prestigious event.
“The regional finalists are top young achievers from communities around New Zealand and every year we hear these students speak on the subject of war with maturity and eloquence. We know they will represent New Zealand with pride and spirit when they stand on the grounds of Gallipoli 100 years after our Anzac soldiers landed,” says Mr McIver.
The ANZ RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition is a partnership between the RSA and ANZ to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who have served New Zealand in armed conflicts overseas.
The competition, for year 12 and 13 students, is a tribute to Cyril Bassett, VC – the only New Zealander at Gallipoli to be awarded the Victoria Cross, and one who worked his entire career at ANZ Group.
Peter Parussini, Head of Corporate Affairs ANZ, says that as New Zealand's oldest and biggest bank ANZ is proud to be involved in a competition that connects younger New Zealanders with an event that helped define us as a nation.
"Cyril Bassett was a staff member before and after World War One and ANZ staff are proud that his name is associated with the competition," says Mr Parussini.
Registrations for the 2015 ANZ RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition will open in the last school term of this year. Regional finals are planned for early February next year, with the national final taking place shortly after in Wellington. Students will be asked to speak about ‘New Zealanders in World War One’. The national winner of the competition will perform their speech at the official Anzac Day commemorations in Gallipoli.
Mr McIver says the growing commitment of young people to attending dawn parades held by RSAs across the country shows us that young Kiwis have a keen interest in commemorating and remembering our nation’s service heritage.
“This is a remarkable opportunity for eight very special young people to have the experience of a lifetime.”