Caitlin Papuni McLellan paid tribute to her relative who fought and died at Gallipoli in a short speech delivered to thousands gathered on the peninsular for the dawn service today.
The 16 year old delivered an emotional tribute to her tūpuna,her great-great-great uncle Private Kurei Papuni who fought in the Maori Contingent and was killed on August 6, 1915, as he headed up the hill to fight for Chunuk Bair, his body was never found.
The Whakatōhea teen chose to remember him by telling his story, she told Te Kāea earlier this week that, “it started with a little story my mother used to tell me about a taonga hanging on her wall which was actually Kureis' medal. And so I said oh Mum I want to do a speech competition next week can I talk about that medallion on the wall? She said no no, no one ever talked about that. And then I started to convince her and said, you know this is Kureis' chance to shine”.
It was this story that captivated the judges of the nationwide Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition which scored Caitlin the opportunity to speak in front of the 10,000 attendees at Anzac tomorrow.
Over 600 Kiwis are buried at Chunuk Bair, and the two youngest were only 17 when they were killed.
In honour of her efforts and her tūpuna Te Kāea has posted her full speech.