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Sir Ed Hillary Heads To Scott Base

25 November 2004
Media release
For immediate release

Sir Ed Hillary Heads To Scott Base

Sir Edmund Hillary returned to Antarctica today, almost half a century after leading the New Zealand expedition that established Scott Base. Sir Edmund, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Phil Goff, will spend eight days on the Ice and feature in a television documentary focused on the 50th anniversary of Scott Base, which is in 2007.

Antarctica New Zealand CEO Lou Sanson said welcoming Sir Edmund back to the base he established in 1957, was exciting for everyone in the New Zealand Antarctic programme. Filming a documentary simultaneously is also chance to record major milestones in the history of Scott Base and Sir Edmund’s connection to those.

“Sir Edmund is synonymous with New Zealand’s Antarctic endeavours. He chose the original base site for its magnificent views and he established our modern day Antarctic science programme, which has made such a contribution internationally.” “His return to Scott Base is eagerly awaited. It’s a great thrill for staff and scientists alike and it’s a humbling experience for me personally. My own father wintered-over in 1964, only six years after Hillary was first here.” Sir Edmund’s visit coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Mt Erebus air crash that claimed the lives of 257 people in Antarctica on 28 November 1979. A commemorative church service will be held at Scott Base on Sunday at which Sir Edmund will read a Bill Manhire poem “Erebus Voices” written specially for the occasion.

Sir Edmund will also spend a day visiting the historic huts at Cape Evans and Cape Royds in his capacity as patron of the Antarctic Heritage Trust, who are working to save the legacy of those early Antarctic explorers Scott and Shackleton. That night a dinner is planned in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition (TAE/IGY Hut) hut, the first building erected at Scott Base by Sir Edmund.

Another highlight will be an evening lecture at the nearby American base, McMurdo Station, which is expected to draw a large crowd given the affection Sir Edmund holds for the Americans and viceversa.

“The excitement at McMurdo around Sir Edmund’s visit, is as high as it is at Scott Base. Hillary and the Americans have a connection dating back to the South Pole and Admiral Dufek.” Sanson said.

While in Antarctica Sir Edmund will also name the Hillary Field Centre, the single largest construction project ever undertaken at Scott Base. Once complete, this heated all weather storage facility will improve Antarctica New Zealand’s ability to support large science field events and signifies the completion of Scott Base. Since 1957, these operations have been conducted from various unheated buildings.

ENDS

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