Wounded New Zealand soldiers are placed in a motorised ambulance in France in 1918 in World War 1. Photo by Alexander Turnbull Library.
A span of time - whether it be a minute, a year, a decade or
a generation - gives rise to the important events of our
world which affect our daily lives.
But there is a defining passage of time which is one of the
most significant of all - a century.
It is widely recognised and acknowledged as being an
anniversary for commemoration, and this year for the present
generation of New Zealanders, its significance becomes
greater than ever before with August 2014 marking 100 years
since the beginning of World War 1.
A commemoration is the act of honouring and preserving the
memory of another.
This upcoming commemoration will be an opportunity for our
generation of New Zealanders to gain knowledge, reflect and
pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for
freedom as we know it today.
The centenary commemoration will be a time for New Zealanders
to come together as one to honour our fallen soldiers.
Truly committing to commemorating the centenary of World War
1 means our generation must have knowledge of the event and
the depth of the sacrifice that was made.
Just to be made aware of the battles valiantly fought and the
incredible New Zealand people involved, is not enough.
It would merely be a consolation for the freedom they so
selflessly enabled us to have today.
For the present generation to give the soldiers the respect
and commemoration they deserve, we need to delve deeply into
the abundance of information available in order to fully
appreciate its significance.
Almost 100 years ago, World War 1 impacted on people all
around the world and New Zealand was no exception.
Because we were a small nation of barely a million people at
the time, the significance of having more than 100,000 New
Zealanders serve overseas made our country's contribution
that much more remarkable, but also made the losses felt much
An event that happened nearly 100 years ago still influences
and affects our generation today.
World War 1 left an indelible mark on many generations of
Whether it was at the time of World War 1 with a family
member lost to the ravages of war in a country far from home,
or a wounded soldier who did return but was never to be the
Perhaps it was the communities decimated by having men in
their prime gone forever, losing future leaders and workers
who would have positively influenced a community and been
role models for the younger generations.
New Zealand society was forever changed by the course of
Our generation can learn from World War 1.
Not only historical and military lessons, but the lessons
about being a New Zealander in our time.
The courage that it takes to do something because you are
To stand up and be counted even in everyday situations.
To have faith that what you are doing is right and can make a
The actions and bravery of the men who travelled across the
world into the unknown to fight, provide life lessons and
make them such incredible role models for the current
generation of New Zealanders.
This enables our generation to make better decisions, and
make our country a better place, not only for us but for
Whether it be within our family, school or community, each
and every one of us has the ability to make a positive
Sometimes it just takes courage and a belief in oneself to
make that step.
If we have an ounce of the courage of our soldiers who fought
in World War 1, then we too can be positive members of
society and make our generation one to be proud of.
With 100 years now almost passed, the upcoming commemorations
may just be the opportunity and impetus for families to find
out more about their loved ones' experiences during World War
1, and for the soldiers to be known as more than just a
number on a medal or headstone.
For me, when I remember soldier 29555, I do not think of a
number. I think of a brave, dignified and honourable soldier
who was my great-grandfather - Lance-corporal Archibald
He was a young farming man from Awamoko, who went off to
fight for New Zealand in Western Europe with great pride.
His captivating war story has been passed down from
generation to generation in my family.
He was wounded while fighting in France in November 1917.
He sustained injuries that left him lying in the trenches for
a week, surrounded by the dead, managing to stay alive by
drinking the water which trickled into the trenches.
He, along with so many New Zealanders, endured pain and
suffering so the Allied forces could eventually be
victorious, ensuring freedom for us today.
It makes me so immensely proud to be descended from a
generation of brave New Zealanders, as well as appreciative
of this freedom we now have.
I think this is the incredible legacy of a centenary
commemoration - it provides a chance to investigate
historical events in order to gain a greater personal
understanding of the individuals who fought, and with this
the development of a greater appreciation for their
I believe that this centenary commemoration will be the
catalyst to ensure that over the next 100 years, the memory
of those New Zealand soldiers who fought and died in World
War 1 will be kept alive in our hearts and minds.
We, as New Zealanders, must never forget the supreme
sacrifice that was made by those who went before us, so that
we were given a ''new dawn''.
They may be gone but after a 100 years, more so than ever,
they will not be forgotten.
• By Lucy Paton, Year 12, Waitaki Girls' High