Subantarctic expedition for Dunedin teen

Hamish Lilley checks the engine room of  HMNZS Wellington during a recent  tour of the ship....
Hamish Lilley checks the engine room of HMNZS Wellington during a recent tour of the ship. Photo supplied.

A Dunedin teen has his sea legs and is ready for a big adventure on the southern seas.

Otago Boys' High School year 13 pupil Hamish Lilley (17) will fly to Auckland tomorrow to join the crew of HMNZS Wellington and 11 other teenagers from across the country for a major climate research expedition to the subantarctic.

Joined by a group of New Zealand marine scientists, environment and business leaders, the group will sail for the Auckland Islands, via Bluff, at 10am on Monday.

Hamish is one of 12 secondary school pupils taking part in the 13-day 2014 Young Blake Expedition, which will assist representatives from the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute, Niwa and University of Otago undertake research on the islands.

Sir Peter Blake's daughter, Sarah-Jane, will join the group for the four-day Auckland-to-Bluff leg of the voyage.

The expedition's mission is to draft a feasibility plan for a subantarctic research station, which it is hoped will be built on the Auckland Islands early in 2015. The station would allow New Zealand scientists and worldwide agencies to work together towards understanding the effect of ocean and climate change as the world warms and what the impact would be on New Zealand's environment, biodiversity and economy.

Hamish is the only Otago pupil selected by the Sir Peter Blake Trust to take part in the expedition.

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, he said he had already planned to give several talks to Dunedin clubs on his return.

He was excited about the trip, which was going to be ''absolutely amazing''.

He said the group flew to Auckland in December to spend a few hours familiarising themselves with the ship and each other and mark the 12th anniversary of Sir Peter's death.

He was most looking forward to seeing the Auckland Islands. The group hopes to spend up to five days on the islands, sleeping each night on board the ship.

Sir Peter Blake Trust chief executive Shelley Campbell said Young Blake Expeditions aimed to give young Kiwis the knowledge and skills to become the future leaders of New Zealand as well as to continue the work of Sir Peter, particularly in the deep Southern Ocean, an area which Sir Peter observed early on to be crucial to understanding the effect of man's impact on our marine environment.

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