RBHS student Mania heads to Auckland Islands

By Greg Taipari

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ON TRACK: Mania Oxenham, Rotorua Boys' High School student, in the steering room on board HMNZS Wellington. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
ON TRACK: Mania Oxenham, Rotorua Boys' High School student, in the steering room on board HMNZS Wellington. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Rotorua Boys' High School student Mania Oxenham is playing his part in understanding the effects of ocean and climate change as the world warms and the impact this change could have on New Zealand's environment.

The 17-year-old is one of 12 of the country's top young leaders who are ready to depart on a major climate research expedition to the Sub-Antarctic, alongside a group of leading New Zealand marine scientists, environment and business leaders.

Leaving from Auckland on Monday, the group will travel on board HMNZS Wellington for the 13-day Young Blake Expedition to the Auckland Islands.

Representatives from the Navy, DoC, NZARI, Niwa, University of Otago and the Sir Peter Blake Trust will also take part in the expedition, with Sir Peter Blake's daughter, Sarah-Jane, joining the Auckland to Bluff leg.

The expedition's mission is an important one for all New Zealanders. The group will draft the feasibility plan for a world-leading Sub-Antarctic research station, which 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.

"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 the 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."

The Sir Peter Blake Trust has selected 12 student leaders from around the country, aged 16-18, to take part in the expedition. They have been tasked 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 the Young Blake Expeditions aimed to tool 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, 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 Sir Peter was passionate about inspiring young Kiwis to set audacious goals and to 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."

Follow the Young Blake Expedition blog and video updates at: www.sirpeterblaketrust.org/young-blake-expeditions/sub-antarctic-expedition/follow-the-expedition.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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