7 June 2016
An Army Cadet is gearing up for a career in the Defence Force, but first she will represent the youth of New Zealand overseas at the commemorations of a battle fought a century ago.
Staff Sergeant Cadet (SSGTCDT) Kiriahi McKee, 17, has travelled from Tawa to Belgium for the Battle of Messines centenary commemorations with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
And as part of her first trip overseas she has a very important job to do.
“I will be doing a reading at the National Commemorative Service at Messines Ridge British Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.”
It was on the Western Front that New Zealand made its most significant contribution to the First World War, and also where New Zealand suffered the greatest loss of life.
The year-12 St Catherine’s College student has set her sights on a career as a medical officer in the New Zealand Army and has a heavy schedule of science based subjects to cover off before she leaves school at the end of 2018.
“I got a phone call from my international exchange officer telling me I had been selected for this role. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m very excited to have been chosen.”
Several of SSGTCDT McKee’s relatives fought in the First World War both at Gallipoli and on the Western Front so this occasion holds special significance for her.
“I’m honoured to be able to pay my respects to those who fought and died for us.”
The teenager joined the Wellington City Cadet unit in 2014 because she thought Cadet Forces would give her a taste of military life.
As well as the National Commemorative Service there will be a Sunset Ceremony at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial in the New Zealand Memorial Park.