On the eve of Anzac day, communities across Turkey celebrate National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, a day that commemorates the founding of the national parliament of the newly declared Republic of Turkey in 1923 and marks the role of children in the country’s future.
It was a day started by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk the first President of Turkey. This year hundreds of children came together to celebrate their festival.
The day set the tone for rangatahi and especially the New Zealand Youth Ambassadors, among them 16 year old Caitlin Papuni McLellan who will pay tribute to her relative who fought and died at Gallipoli when she gives a short speech to the thousands gathered on the peninsula for the dawn service tomorrow.
Her great-great-great uncle Private Kurei Papuni fought in the Maori Contingent and was killed on August 6, 1915, as he headed up the hill to fight for Chunuk Bair but his body was never found.
The Whakatōhea teen chose to remember him by telling his story, “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.
Dean Nathan will bring us more stories from Gallipoli as part of Māori Television, Te Kāea news coverage of Anzac, bringing insights from New Zealand and local perspective on one of the most important events in our nation’s history.