By Katherine Woolrych | Posted: Tuesday May 20, 2014
During our visit to New Caledonia in April, fifteen students and two staff members had the opportunity to represent New Zealand at the ANZAC day dawn service in Noumea.
On the 24th of April, the ANZAC wreath laying ceremony was held at the New Zealand War Ceremony in Bourail, and then on the 25th, the Dawn Service, which we attended, was held at the Croix de Lorraine.
The Croix de Lorraine is a French symbol of the liberation of France from Nazi Germany, and the Croix de Lorraine on Mont-Coffyn in Noumea is a large metal memorial, built in 1973 to remember New Caledonian soldiers who died in WW2.
Many dignitaries from France, New Zealand and Australia were present to remember the courage of the ANZAC soldiers, including the French High Commissioner, elected members of the New Caledonian Government, members of the diplomatic corps, war veterans, local schools and more than 200 members of the public.
The service began with the New Zealand and Australian Consul Generals speaking and reading poems in French and English, and local schoolchildren and Australian schoolchildren read poetry also.
Loren Palmer and Evalotte Kubala represented New Zealand by reading High Flight (Haute Voltige) by John Gillespie Magee Jnr in French and English. After that was the wreath laying, where Ava Straw, Brianna Palin, Tristan Howard, Sam Van Alphen Bennett and Isla Benham represented New Zealand by laying flowers. The service finished with the singing of the New Zealand, Australian and French national anthems.
ANZAC Day is of course a day to remember those who died in conflict, but in Noumea, ANZAC Day provides also an opportunity to acknowledge the close relationship between New Zealand and New Caledonia.
We were especially lucky to have the opportunity to take part in this and represent over country overseas, and I think it was a significant experience for all of us.