Expedition to keep environmental legacy alive


Young Blake Expedition members (from left)  Isabella Brown, Jed Long, expedition leader Don Robertson, Sedef Duder-Ozyurt, Mitchell Chandler, Elizabeth Huang , Ben Richards, Jessica Jenkins, Katrina Jensen , Hamish Lilley, Samantha Kingsbury , Tremayne Reid, and Mania Oxenham on board  HMNZS Wellington yesterday, marking the 12th anniversary of Sir Peter Blake's death.  Photo supplied.
Young Blake Expedition members (from left) Isabella Brown, Jed Long, expedition leader Don Robertson, Sedef Duder-Ozyurt, Mitchell Chandler, Elizabeth Huang , Ben Richards, Jessica Jenkins, Katrina Jensen , Hamish Lilley, Samantha Kingsbury , Tremayne Reid, and Mania Oxenham on board HMNZS Wellington yesterday, marking the 12th anniversary of Sir Peter Blake's death. Photo supplied.

Twelve years after Sir Peter Blake was murdered by pirates while monitoring the marine environment in Brazil, his environmental legacy lives on through a Dunedin teenager.

Otago Boys' High School pupil Hamish Lilley (17) is one of 12 secondary school pupils from around New Zealand who will follow in Sir Peter's environmentalist footsteps by journeying to the Auckland Islands in February, to a region identified as critical for studying the effects of climate change.

The group of young environmental leaders was joined by scientists and representatives from Niwa, the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Sir Peter Blake Trust on board HMNZS Wellington yesterday, to mark the anniversary of Sir Peter's death.

Sir Peter was 53 when he was shot and killed by pirates while monitoring environmental change on the Amazon River on December 5, 2001.

The New Zealand yachtsman won the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race, held the Jules Verne Trophy from 1994 to 1997 by setting the fastest time sailing around the world, and led successive victories in the America's Cup.

His later life was spent drawing attention to the fragility of the marine environment, and he established the Young Blake Expeditions to mobilise the next generation of environmental leaders among New Zealand youth.

Hamish is one of those leaders and is, at present, searching for his sea legs before he and his fellow secondary school pupils join a team of environmental scientists on a Young Blake Expedition to the subantarctic to start planning for a new ''world-leading'' climate-change research station.

The anniversary event was an opportunity for expedition leader Don Robertson, who also crewed on Sir Peter Blake's final journey aboard Seamaster, to talk about Sir Peter's passion for protecting the marine environment.

The event also provided a chance for the expedition crew to tour the 85m vessel which will take them more than 1000km to and from the subantarctic islands in February.

Sir Peter Blake Trust programme director Hannah Prior said the pupils' role on the expedition would be to help draft a feasibility study for the establishment of a research station, which would allow local and international agencies to work collaboratively on integrated climate and marine science programmes in the subantarctic.

In 2015, a second group of young leaders - this time joined by New Zealand's Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae - would return to help build the station, she said.

The establishment of the research station would provide new access for researchers implementing the Deep South National Science Challenge, one of 10 National Science Challenges being launched by the Government over the next two years.

The station would also help direct and support conservation of the World Heritage site, she said.

The expedition is expected to depart from Auckland on February 10 and return to Bluff by February 23, 2014.

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

 

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