Those who served New Zealand in overseas conflicts were paid tribute to by High School students on Saturday.

Students from across the East Coast, Hawke's Bay, and the Wairarapa showcased their talent at Saturday's ANZ Bank-RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition regional final.

The competition is named after Cyril Bassett, the only New Zealander at Gallipoli to be awarded the Victoria Cross, and who worked his entire career at The National Bank, now ANZ New Zealand.

In tribute to him, Year 12 and 13 students compete each year with speeches, this years' subject being New Zealanders in WWI, which embraced Kiwis who served or were involved in WWI. ANZ Napier branch manager Fiona Barber said students had to do a lot of research to understand the subject, and then had to speak without the use of notes, lectern, or visual aids.


"They have to do their own research. It's amazing the depth of knowledge they need," she said, "and they need to be able to speak to that high standard, it blows me away."

"I couldn't have picked a winner, they were all amazing." But the judges could, choosing with Benjamin McCook-Weir from Masterton's Rathkeale College as winner.

As well as winning $1000 for himself, and $1000 for his school, Benjamin also won a place in the National Final to be held in Wellington on March 23.

The national winner will travel to Gallipoli and give his or her speech as part of the Anzac commemorations.

Second place was awarded to Kelci Alderton-Armstrong, from Iona College.

The competition is a partnership between ANZ and the RSA to promote a deeper appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who have served New Zealand in conflicts overseas.