By: Alice Guy

The competition, to raise awareness of the battle through digital technologies, asked entrants to develop a curriculum resource to be used for Year 7 to 10 students.

The students created websites encompassing a range of digital resources including an interactive map of the battlefield, social media profiles and provocative questions.

Rotorua Girls’ High students Alyssa Mae Pineda, Kayla Kautai, Mairaatea Mohi, Atawhai Ngatai and Keighley Jones created a scrolling menu of pages on their website called The Missed that detailed different aspects of the battle, a quiz to test learning and material in te reo Maori.

The students impressed the judges with their digital creations designed to teach younger students about this important event in New Zealand’s history.

Kayla said they first heard about the competition from their principal, Ally Gibbons, who will be a chaperone on the trip.

“The thing that stood out was that it was New Zealand’s blackest day and we’d never come across it,” she said.

Atawhai said they were all working backstage on the school production so didn’t know if they would be able to fit it in.

“We ended up completing it in three days,” Kayla said.

The girls decided on the name The Missed for a few different reasons.

“It kind of had a few meanings, we miss the soldiers but the people that died at Passchendaele are also overlooked,” Alyssa said.

Keighley said it was also missed in their education.

The website featured a translation into te reo Maori.

“It’s quite a big part of our identity as New Zealanders,” Atawhai said. “So it made sense to be there.”

The girls said they hadn’t really spoken about the competition since submitting their entry because they didn’t want to get their hopes up.

“It was really exciting when we found out we’d won. We were all just screaming,” Alyssa said.

The Year 13 students wanted to thank their teacher, Joanne Varie, who played a “pivotal role” in their journey and success.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay congratulated the girls and said they would represent Rotorua well when they attended the 100th-anniversary commemorations in Belgium later this year.

“Their entry was an excellent piece of creative thinking and a very clever use of digital technology,” he said. “It will help younger generations connect with the huge sacrifices made by brave New Zealanders during the First World War.”

Mr McClay said they had worked extremely hard and their win was a significant achievement.

Education Minister Nikki Kaye and the Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry announced the winning students.

“All the students should be extremely proud of what they’ve produced,” Ms Kaye said.

“The feedback from the judges was outstanding, with one reporting that the entries reduced him to tears with the students’ understanding of what they had learnt from Passchendaele.”

The other two winning entries came from St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton and St Margaret’s College in Christchurch.

Ms Barry said it was important for us to learn from the past and through this opportunity the students would be able to share what they had learned with others.

“This competition has been an amazing opportunity for them to learn more about the Battle of Passchendaele and reflect on the sacrifices made by our ancestors,” she said.

The competition was launched by the Ministry of Education in May, in partnership with the sponsors, Fields of Remembrance Trust and the Passchendaele Society.

The winners will travel to Belgium on October 7 to attend the National Commemoration Service at the Tyne Cot Cemetery near Zonnebeke in West Flanders.

“Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in the world,” Ms Barry said. “It is also the final resting place of 520 New Zealanders and a memorial to those missing in battle. They will also attend the New Zealand Memorial and Garden Opening on October 12.”

As well as the commemoration, the students will visit the Passchendaele Battlefields and surrounding areas and the Flanders Fields Museum, and will visit Paris and Amsterdam, where they will visit Anne Frank house before returning to New Zealand.

“This will be the trip of a lifetime for the students,” she said. “It will be an invaluable educational experience as they retrace the steps of those who fought in WW1 in Passchendaele and Flanders Field.”

To see the girls website, visit http://themissed.000webhostapp.com/

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

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