Jour­ney of a life­time to sub-Antarc­tic

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Twelve of the coun­try’s top young lead­ers departed on a ma­jor cli­mate re­search ex­pe­di­tion to the sub­Antarc­tic, along­side a group of lead­ing New Zealand marine sci­en­tists, en­vi­ron­ment and busi­ness lead­ers.

Hav­ing left from Auck­land at 10am on Mon­day, the group, which in­cludes Ma­nia Oxenham, 17, from Mata­mata, will travel on­board the HMNZS Welling­ton for the 13- day Young Blake Ex­pe­di­tion to the Auck­land Is­lands.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the NZ Navy, DOC, NZARI, NIWA, Univer­sity of Otago and the Sir Peter Blake Trust will also be tak­ing part in the ex­pe­di­tion, with Sir Peter Blake’s daugh­ter, Sarah- Jane, join­ing the Auck­land to Bluff leg of the voy­age.

The ex­pe­di­tion’s mis­sion is an im­por­tant one for all New Zealan­ders. This group will draft the fea­si­bil­ity plan for a world- lead­ing sub-Antarc­tic re­search sta­tion, which it is hoped will be built on the Auck­land Is­lands in early 2015. The pro­posed sta­tion will al­low New Zealand sci­en­tists and world­wide agen­cies to work to­gether to­wards un­der­stand­ing the effect of ocean and cli­mate change as the world warms and what the im­pact will be on New Zealand’s en­vi­ron­ment, bio­di­ver­sity and econ­omy.

‘‘The world’s lead­ing cli­mate sci­en­tists are now surer than ever that the earth is warm­ing and we now need to de­ter­mine how vul­ner­a­ble Antarc­tica’s ice sheets, shelves and sea ice are, and given our close prox­im­ity to the South­ern Ocean, what that will mean for New Zealand in the fu­ture,’’ said leader of the Deep South Na­tional Science Project and New Zealand Antarc­tic Re­search In­sti­tute di­rec­tor, Pro­fes­sor Gary Wil­son.

‘‘ The Deep South Na­tional Science Chal­lenge, one of the first of 10 Na­tional Science Chal­lenge pro­pos­als in­vited by the govern­ment, also recog­nises that New Zealand is uniquely placed to lead the world in un­der­stand­ing the role of Antarc­tica and the South­ern Ocean in driv­ing global cli­mate and en­vi­ron­men­tal change,’’ adds Mr Wil­son.

The Sir Peter Blake Trust has se­lected 12 stu­dent lead­ers, aged 16 to 18, to take part in the ex­pe­di­tion and have tasked them with in­spir­ing and mo­bil­is­ing other New Zealan­ders, through their Auck­land Is­lands ex­pe­ri­ence, to know and care about what is hap­pen­ing to the marine en­vi­ron­ment. It is the se­cond Young Blake Ex­pe­di­tion to set sail, fol­low­ing 2012’ s suc­cess­ful voy­age to the Ker­madecs, and is key to the legacy of Sir Peter Blake who, af­ter many years at sea as a pro­fes­sional yachts­man, ded­i­cated his life to draw­ing at­ten­tion to the crit­i­cal changes af­fect­ing the world’s oceans, marine life and sea birds.

Sir Peter Blake Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive, Shel­ley Camp­bell, said, ‘‘ Young Blake Ex­pe­di­tions aim to tool these young Ki­wis with the knowl­edge and skills to be­come the fu­ture lead­ers of New Zealand as well as to con­tinue the great work of Sir Peter Blake, par­tic­u­larly in the Deep South, an area which Sir Peter ob­served early on to be cru­cial to un­der­stand­ing the effect of man’s im­pact on our marine en­vi­ron­ment.’’

Ex­pe­di­tion lead­er­ship di­rec­tor and Team NZ busi­ness man­ager, Ross Black­man, said, ‘‘Peter was pas­sion­ate about in­spir­ing young Ki­wis to set au­da­cious goals and dare to dream. I know he would be ex­tremely proud of these young lead­ers and the ex­pe­di­tion in his name that they are about to em­bark upon. ’’

See Ma­nia Oxenham’s bio and fol­low the Young Blake Ex­pe­di­tion blog and video up­dates at: sir­peterblaketrust.org.

Photo: SUP­PLIED

All aboard: Ma­nia Oxenham in the steer­ing room on­board the HMNZS Welling­ton.

Photo: SUP­PLIED

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