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Taupo teenager takes title in Battle of Passchendaele multi-media competition

Eighteen year-old Mina Bixley from Tauhara College in Taupō has been announced as the overall winner of this year’s Battle of Passchendaele Multi-Media Competition.

Mina’s entry, a short film which she scripted and animated herself, took the top prize from entries submitted from across New Zealand, winning Mina a $2,000 grant towards her education and a place as a Youth Ambassador at the Battle of Passchendaele centenary commemorations in Belgium next year.

View Mina's entry.

Second place in the competition went to Wellington local Nina Richardson, from Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, who submitted a poem entitled ‘the things they did, the things they didn’t’. Nina will also be a Youth Ambassador at the centenary commemorations.

Read Nina's entry.

At a ceremony marking the 99th Anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Veterans’ Affairs Minister Hon Craig Foss recognised the two young women’s achievements.

Read the Minister's press release. (external link)

The Battle of Passchendaele competition, run by Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand, was launched in 2011 as a way of ensuring that New Zealand’s sacrifice on the Western Front was not forgotten, and that New Zealand’s young people continue to be aware of the heroism that took place in the fields of Belgium.

The judging panel for the Battle of Passchendaele Competition included:

  • Elaine Myers-Davies, Head of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Richard Terrill, Support Services Project Officer, RNZRSA
  • Ion Brown, a Napier based artist
  • Professor Glyn Harper, Historian, Massey University
  • Flight Lieutenant Simon Brew, Director of Music (Air Force), New Zealand Defence Force
  • Sarah Burgess, First World War Researcher, Ministry of Culture and Heritage

First place

'Passchendaele on a Personal Scale', a video by Mina Bixley from Tauhara College, Taupo.

Watch Passchendaele on a Personal Scale on YouTube (external link)

Second place

‘the things they did, the things they didn’t’, a poem by Nina Richardson from Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, Wellington.

so much has been said
so many words have tried to wrap themselves
around this horror thing
this beast of blood and mud thing

in the aftermath of screaming grey
of cracks, echoes
(an ash cloud that will never quite dissipate)
it’s easy for things to slip between the cracks
for a spark of courage to drift, forgotten
for names to blur into the mud
to disappear in rain, under boot stamp

Passchendaele -
the ground there heavier, somehow
thickened by hot blood and shot-down dreams
hopes pinned to the ground by barbed wire uncut
(few things weigh more than never coming home again)
boy targets still milk-young, all tooth and strong arm

they wilt into pages of text with no beating heart
     0525 preliminary artillery
barrage 12/10 quagmire
     craters gunfire fire shells 845
front and flank and flame

casualty is a cold word
(all stretchers and hospital halls and missing things)
no room for the crumbs of anzac from home, for freckles
for the songs they sang, the last face they saw
when they closed their eyes

this village meant so little, in the end
a shivering emptiness in the spires, the streets
but these men, with their rushing humanity
their bravery fire-hot, footstep after footstep
shot after shell after shot after hell
these men meant so much

they mean our seas, blue and endless
our rolling hills, straining with life
our trees, the songs in them
our skies, full, our hearts
a country living and growing with fervour
with fern and green and good
they mean each free breath

we weep for what they never got to do
we live for what they did

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