Key unveils artworks at Scott Base (+photos)

By Isaac Davison

Prime Minister John Key unveils the new maori statue and sign in front of Scott Base in Antarctica today. Photo / Alan Gibson
Prime Minister John Key unveils the new maori statue and sign in front of Scott Base in Antarctica today. Photo / Alan Gibson

New Zealand's highs and lows in Antarctica have been marked in the unveiling of new artworks at Scott Base.

A large sculpture called "The Navigator of the Heavens" was put up in front of the base yesterday, 56 years after New Zealand established itself on Ross Island.

Antarctica New Zealand felt that Scott Base had lacked a symbol of New Zealand culture, and commissioned the Ngai Tahu iwi to create one.

"It is not a claim," Ngai Tahu leader Sir Mark Solomon joked as he unveiled the carving at a ceremony in the morning. "It is expression [that] we are part of the culture of New Zealand."

Prime Minister John Key said the ceremony - which was held in -10C conditions - was very moving: "Scott Base has a place in the hearts and minds of New Zealanders, even if they haven't visited here. To have this representation here is a lovely touch."

The carving featured symbols of Antarctic-New Zealand connections - the ocean currents which began at the frozen continent and swept past New Zealand, and whales which travelled between the Southern Ocean and New Zealand's shores.

It was placed next to the New Zealand flagpole which Sir Edmund Hillary put up in 1957 to mark the opening of the base.

Woven artworks were also unveiled inside the base yesterday to commemorate the four people who have died in New Zealand operations in Antarctica.

Lieutenant Thomas Couzens was killed when a bulldozer he was driving fell through the McMurdo ice sheet in 1959.

National Film Unit worker Jeremy Sykes was killed in a US helicopter crash while filming a documentary in 1969, and Scott Base workers Garth Varcoe and Terry Newport also died in a chopper crash while returning from Cape Bird in 1992.

- Herald on Sunday

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