Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Young Kiwis take up Sir Peter Blake's environmental baton

The late Sir Peter Blake. Photo / 1997 / Brett Phibbs
The late Sir Peter Blake. Photo / 1997 / Brett Phibbs

Twelve Kiwi youngsters have taken up the baton from the late Sir Peter Blake in his quest to preserve the Antarctic.

The group of 16-18 years olds will on Monday set off on a 13-day expedition to the Auckland Islands in the Sub-Antarctic where they will help to plan the building of a world-leading research station.

They will be joined on the HMNZS Wellington by Sir Peter's daughter, Sarah-Jane Blake, for part of the journey, as well as representatives from the Navy, Department of Conservation, the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the University of Otago and the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

The proposed research station, which is hoped to be built early next year, will allow New Zealand scientists and worldwide agencies to work together towards understanding the effects of ocean and climate change 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 New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute director Gary Wilson.

The 12 youngsters, from all corners of the country, have been tasked with inspiring and mobilising other New Zealanders to know and care about what is happening to the marine environment.

Katrina Jensen, who finished at Palmerston North Girls' High School last year, said she was honoured to be carrying on Sir Peter's legacy.

"As we've been becoming more involved with the Sir Peter Blake trust we've been finding out more and more about him and all the things that he did, which are just so amazing.

"He had a lot of passion for the environment and New Zealand and he actually acted on what his passions were, which is pretty inspiring."

Ms Jensen, 18, will be studying Engineering at the University of Canterbury this year and hoped to merge this with her passion for the environment.

Sir Peter Blake Trust chief executive Shelley Campbell said the Young Blake Expedition aimed to tool them with the knowledge and skills to become the future leaders of New Zealand, as well as to continue the great work of Sir Peter.

The New Zealand yachtsman dedicated much of his life to drawing attention to the critical changes affecting the world's oceans, marine life and sea birds.

The expedition departs Auckland on Monday.

Young Blake Expedition team members:

• Elizabeth Huang, St Cuthbert's College, Auckland

• Tremayne Reid, One Tree Hill College, Auckland

• Sedef Duder-Ozyurt, Auckland Girls' Grammar

• Ben Richards, Tauranga Boys' College

• Mania Oxenham, Rotorua Boys' High School, from Matamata

• Jed Long, Taumarunui High School

• Katrina Jensen, Palmerston North Girls' High School

• Jessica Jenkins, Paraparaumu College

• Mitchell Chandler, Nayland College, Nelson

• Isabella Brown, St Margaret's College, Christchurch

• Samantha Kingsbury, Buller High School, Westport

• Hamish Lilley, Otago Boys' High School

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 18 Sep 2014 18:55:09 Processing Time: 374ms