A Tauranga Girls' College student has won a trip to Belgium and $2000 towards future education with a winning poem about the Battle of Passchendaele.

Amanda Fu-man Yang won first-equal in the 2017 Minister of Veterans' Affairs Multi-media Competition for her poem about the October 12 campaign of World War I.

As her prize, the 17-year-old earned a place on the 2017 Youth Ambassador delegation which will travel to Belgium in October this year for the Battle of Passchendaele centenary commemorations.

"It's going to be such a great experience and really great to have on my CV. I am going to be able to actually see the graves and the memorials that I have researched about," said Miss Fu-man Yang.


The teenager had studied the battle as part of her Year 13 history class at Tauranga Girls' College. When she heard about the competition from her history teacher Rita Perigo, Miss Fuman Yang decided to enter.

"I thought, Why not?"

"With the 100th commemoration of the battle coming up, I wanted to find out more about the significant event. It's the independence of our nation."

Born in Taiwan, Miss Fu-man Yang moved to New Zealand at age 7.

"New Zealand's history is completely different. But ever since I have come to this country I have been interested in its history."

Miss Fu-man Yang also won a $2000 contribution towards her education. She planned to put her prize money towards health science and dentistry studies at the University of Otago.

"It's not like my history lessons have gone to waste. I will be able to use my research skills that I have learned in history class towards any research I do in the future."

Judges of the 2017 Minister of Veterans' Affairs Multi-media Competition were highly impressed by Miss Fu-man Yang's poem. They found it to be "compelling, thought-provoking and highly emotive".

Tauranga Girls' College history teacher Rita Perigo said Miss Fu-man Yang integrated personal connections into her poem, which gave it emotional impact.

"They are somebody's sons, brothers, fathers. They are our families."

Miss Fu-man Yang's poem:

October 12, 1917
5.25am opening barrage began
Second New Zealand infantry brigade and third NZ rifles
Walked on
Walked on
Mud and rain and pain
That dragged them every centimetre marched
Much closer to the grave
Cloaked by blinding gas
No respite
No energy left to fight
And still ...
The enemy rattled through belt after belt while the New Zealanders fell by the score
They fell on Gravenstafel road tangles in wire
No call to retire
They fought on

On October 12 1917
3:00pm another push
This time halted
and the dying slowed
846 sons of NZ mothers fell
That darkest day before the dimming of the light
In the dawn eight kilometres gained
At the cost of 846
106 men and boys for every one kilometre won
But what a loss
Of NZ sons and lovers, men and boys

12 October 2017
We will remember them
They who were young, straight to limb, true of eye, steady and aglow
The sons of NZ mothers, the lovers, the brothers, the men and boys from Aotearoa
We will gather in the half light at the dawning of the day
In a foreign field
Where row on row on row the poppies grow
Like a korowai bestowed by Papatuanuku
To cover up our men
To protect them from their foes
A foe who too lies
in a country that is not their own
A generation that will never return to their home

On this day
12 October 2017
We stand beside them as we could not do in battle
Our men, our boys from Aotearoa

Haere ra e tama
Haere ra
Haria ra te aroha i ahau
Aue! me tangi noa
Ahau ki muri nei
He ngakau tangi noa

We their people weep again
In Passchendaele 100 years today