St Hilda's Collegiate School head girl Harriet Keown (16),
who has been selected to represent New Zealand at World War
1 commemorations in France. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Sometimes history can be just words on a page.
But when Harriet Keown attends World War 1 commemorations in
France later this year, the history of the bloody conflict
will come alive for her at some of the battlegrounds her
great-great-uncle Cecil Harvey fought on.
''Having that connection will make it a bit more real,'' she
The St Hilda's Collegiate School head girl has been selected
as one of 10 New Zealand Young Ambassadors to attend World
War 1 commemorations in July, as part of the France-New
Zealand education project.
The project aims to boost awareness of the war among young
people, particularly now the last of the veterans has died.
It also aims to raise awareness among the French public about
the contribution of the New Zealand division to the fighting
on the Western Front.
Harriet said the young ambassadors would stay in northeast
France and Paris for two weeks, visiting historical and
cultural sites related to the war, and attend commemorative
events at places including the Battlefields of the Somme, the
Great War Museum, Musee de Wellington (Arras), Flanders
Fields Museum and Menin Gate.
She will also take part in the official commemoration
ceremonies in Paris on July 14.
''I'm so excited. I've always wanted to go to France. It's
definitely a dream trip.
''I've been learning French since year 9 - it's my favourite
subject. I also like history, so it's the two combined.''
Harriet said she would keep a record of her experience as a
young ambassador on a dedicated website by posting journals,
photos and videos.
On her return to New Zealand, she will be expected to share
the knowledge she has gained and help with education and
promotion of WW1 commemorations among young people.
Harriet said she planned to stay in France for an extra week
following the commemorations to visit a great-aunt and uncle
''It will be cool to be with them over there. I'll be able to
experience the culture and the sights of France for a bit
''It's also a great wine-growing region, but I doubt I'll get
to experience that.''