Ten young New Zealand students are travelling to France in September to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

The trip is part of Shared Histories, a French-New Zealand school programme run by the French Embassy and several partner organisations, including the Ministry of Education.

"Young ambassador" Thomas Swinburn of Dilworth School in Auckland said he was keen to see the battlefields where his great-grandfather fought.

"The values that our soldiers defended transcend generations," he said.


The secondary school students will tour major World War I battlefields in France and Belgium, including Longueval and Ypres.

On September 15, they will attend the 100th anniversary ceremony to mark New Zealand's involvement in the Battle of the Somme.

The teenagers will be staying with French host families to immerse themselves in Gallic language and culture.

In preparation for the trip, the student ambassadors are working on projects in collaboration with students at partner schools in France.

The young ambassadors met in Wellington on Saturday to exchange ideas about their projects.

Organiser Pascale Hyboud-Perron said the meeting was about "reflection" and encouraging discussions about the war with whanau and local communities before the trip.

It was also an opportunity to discuss fundraising ideas.

The trip is mostly funded by the French Embassy and The New Zealand France Friendship Fund, but there is a shortfall of $2000.

Ms Hyboud-Perron said none of the students was worried about this. They were full of ideas for raising the money, she said.

Each of the student ambassadors is writing a blog about their experience as a young ambassador.

Wellington Girls' College student Lily Polaczuk writes that she is excited to "learn all about French culture, while also sharing a bit of my own!"

Laura Voight from Otago Girls' High School wants "to dive further into the history of the Battle of the Somme".

Like her fellow young ambassador Thomas, Laura's great-grandfather served in the Somme.

Raynald Belay, Cultural and Scientific Counsellor at the French Embassy, said he was impressed by the quality of applications.

All 10 students selected displayed "strong leadership skills" and "a keen interest in French language and culture", Mr Belay said.

This will be the second Young Ambassadors Tour organised as part of the Shared Histories programme.

In 2014, 11 young people were chosen to attend the inaugural ceremony of the Remembrance period on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.