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Youth debate to mark centenary of the Treaty of Versailles

Media release: 21 June 2019

Some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s top secondary school debaters will consider New Zealand’s global role in a debate at Parliament on Thursday (27 June) to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Although fighting in the First World War ceased with the Armistice of 11 November 1918, the brutal conflict formally ended when the Allies and Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in Paris on 28 June 1919.

“The Treaty of Versailles was the first international treaty New Zealand signed in its own right. It represented an important milestone on our road to nationhood, and to becoming an independent and active member of the global community,” says Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Executive Bernadette Cavanagh.

In the centenary debate, which is being hosted by Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, students will consider the motion: ‘Global issues need global solutions, and the global rules-based multilateral system is the way to achieve them’.

“The modern multilateral system began with international institutions such as the League of Nations that were created by the Treaty of Versailles. 100 years on, it’s important to reflect on New Zealand’s place in the world – where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. It’s fitting to have the voices of young people centre stage in this conversation,” says Ms Cavanagh.

Delegates leaving the Palace after signing the Treaty of Versailles, 28 June 1919. Image courtesy of Archives New Zealand, reference: AALZ 903 1/13

The Treaty of Versailles also established the International Labour Organisation (ILO), of which New Zealand was a founding member. The ILO, now a United Nations agency, brings together governments, employers and workers to set labour standards and promote decent work for all.

Both the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rt Hon Winston Peters will address attendees at the Treaty of Versailles centenary event.

The Treaty of Versailles centenary event will be livestreamed via the WW100 Facebook page from 9am on Thursday 27 June 2019.

• Read more about the Treaty of Versailles at ww100.govt.nz

• Read more about New Zealand’s involvement in the ILO at:


Updated on 27th June 2019