New Zealand Embassy Paris, France
Bastille Day 2014
The annual Bastille Day parade down the Champs Élysées held a special significance for New Zealand this year. A New Zealand Defence Force colour party carrying regimental colours and four young New Zealanders were invited by President François Hollande to join the parade, along with 79 other countries that participated in the First World War. It marked the beginning of First World War commemorations for France. The Hon Chris Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, attended on behalf of the New Zealand government, along with the New Zealand Ambassador to France, Rosemary Banks.
The New Zealand Defence Force colour party comprised of Lieutenant Harry Llewellyn, platoon commander, Staff Sergeant Shannon Wallace, company quartermaster-sergeant and Sergeant Matthew Pearce DSD of 2nd 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.
The Regimental Colour displays 21 battle honours earned by the New Zealand Infantry from the South African War of 1899-1902 through to the Second World War, and include two battle honours earned in France in the First World War. The first was awarded for the Battle of Flers-Courcelette which took place over the period 15-22 September 1916. The second was awarded for the Battle of the Sambre Canal (from 4 November 1918). This battle honour recognises the action of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade in liberating the town of Le Quesnoy from occupation.
Four French speaking youth representatives (aged 18-24) from New Zealand joined young people from the other invited countries for a showpiece to end the parade with a release of white doves as a symbol of peace. They were Aria Newfield and Milan Djurich from Auckland, Isabel Kerr from Wellington and Alexander Summerlee from Christchurch.