Students from New Zealand (Whakatane High School) and New Caledonia (Collège de Normandie) are to research the shared histories of soldier/s who went from their community to fight in WW1 and share the experience that those soldiers had in the war.
I met Agnès on my ILEP trip to New Caledonia last year, as I was her billet. This project is a result of having met her, my knowledge of the existence of the Shared Histories programme and having supported Katya (Collins) as Young Ambassador to Commemorations to the Somme in 2016.
- What will our NZ students do?
They will research their own genealogy with regards to participants in WW1.
Then the class will follow one Maori combatant from the Eastern Bay of Plenty rohe to track his journey from New Zealand to the fighting in France.
By immersing in this vision, the New Zealand students gain a historical perspective and realise their connections to WW1, the sacrifices that their ancestors made and the deep connections between New Zealand and France and French speaking countries because of this.
- What will happen?
Students will collate this information and present it in a visual format to the students from New Caledonia on a marae just out of Whakatane when the New Caledonia school visits in November 2017
The marae is called Te Hokowhitu a Tu and the elders of the marae will deliver a history of why this marae has been given the name of the Pioneer Battalion.
Our NZ students will teach the New Caledonian students waiata sung by Maori in the war, and the students will all spend a night on the marae, sleeping in the wharenui and learning the protocols (tikanga) of the marae.
Hopefully this marae stay and the delivery from the elders will also give both sets of students more insight into Maori and their participation in WW1 while helping create a strong “bond” between our New Zealand students and their New Caledonian counterparts.
We will also go on a Shared Histories Exchange to New Caledonia in late September, ahead of Collège de Normandie visit to New Zealand.
Images from the WW1 exhibition in Whakatane: