Green teen on Peter Blake mission
The Nelson teenager famous for his vege-powered van will take his environmentalism to the next level with the Sir Peter Blake Trust.
Neil MacMillan was a delegate in the Sir Peter Blake Trust’s Youth Enviro-Leader Forum (YELF) last year, and now he and 20 other teens from around New Zealand and Samoa will be working with the Trust on the Young Blake Expedition.
While working with other YELF members on issues like plastic pollution in the ocean, the opportunity arose to apply for the expedition.
MacMillan, passionate about environmentalism which he describes as ‘‘just a part of his life’’, applied.
He was accepted, and on Sunday 25th he and the rest of the expedition set out to the Kermadec Islands on the HMNZS Canterbury.
Known in Nelson for his petrolfree van, he plans to take next year as a gap-year to visit countries in South East Asia to learn about deforestation and the plight of orang-utans. His longterm plans involve studying how climate change will effect ecosystems.
MacMillan said they hadn’t been told yet the full details of what the Blake expedition would cover, but he thought they would be monitoring local dolphin populations, among other things.
‘‘Some of the previous years, the work that [students] have done has gone on to be used in the research the scientists are doing,’’ MacMillan said.
‘‘I think one year they discovered a new species of seaweed.’’ The expedition will last 12 days, giving the students plenty of time to learn from the scientists on board with them.
HMNZS Canterbury Commanding Officer Matt Wray said he and his crew were ‘‘thrilled’’ to have the expedition on board.
‘‘The whole crew takes part in developing these young leaders and their knowledge of the ocean and the critical part it plays for New Zealand,’’ he said.
This expedition is the fourth that the HMNZS Canterbury has been involved in.
Sir Peter Blake Trust environment programme director Hannah Prior said it was ‘‘amazing’’ to see the development of students in the expedition.
‘‘By increasing their understanding of New Zealand’s unique and special places like the Kermadecs, the opportunities and challenges they face, they return as passionate and lifelong advocates and ambassadors for them,’’ she said.
Nelson’s own ‘‘veggie van’’ teen Neil MacMillan will go on the Sir Peter Blake Trust expedition.