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Successful Antarctic 2004/05 Season Closes

28 February 2005

Successful Antarctic 2004/05 Season Closes

The New Zealand Antarctic season officially closed with the last flight leaving Antarctica on 26 February. Staying on to winter-over at Scott Base until flights resume in August, are 19 personnel who will keep the base operating and fit out the newly commissioned Hillary Field Centre.

This is the largest number of people to winter-over since Sir Edmund Hillary established Scott Base in 1957. Antarctica New Zealand CEO Lou Sanson said that despite many logistics challenges this season, including warm weather that affected sea ice conditions, the loss of a telecommunications link and the presence of the B-15A iceberg, he was very proud of the organisation’s achievements.

“This season has certainly put us to the test but as always the staff have responded extremely well. New Zealand continues to play a major part in the vital scientific and environmental research carried out in the Ross Sea region and this season was no exception.” Sixty-nine events were supported in and around Scott Base and further afield. This includes 34 New Zealand science events, three Malaysian events and one Australian event.

“Science highlights include extraction of over 300 metres of ice core which will help New Zealand better understand the local past climate of the McMurdo Sound area, and a second season at Cape Hallett for the Latitudinal Gradient Project looking at the diverse ecosystem there,” Sanson said.

“The organisation again took a leading role in the clean up of Cape Hallett with strong cooperation from the Italians. A further five tonnes of material was collected by the all New Zealand team. In total 27 tonnes of material have been collected from the site. The use of alternative energy (wind and solar) was also trialled at Cape Hallett.” Lou Sanson paid tribute to the excellent support provided to the programme by the Americans through the joint logistics pool and the New Zealand Defence Force. Approximately 368 personnel were transported to Antarctica, as well as 134,500 pounds of supplies and equipment over the year.

“The assistance of both these strategic partners is integral to the success of the New Zealand Antarctic programme.” In addition to scientific research it was a very busy year with a number of Antarctic milestones commemorated. A major highlight was the return to Scott Base of Sir Edmund Hillary to officially open the new heated field centre named after him and to participate in a TVNZ documentary. The $4.7m Hillary Field Centre is the largest construction project ever undertaken at Scott Base and was completed ahead of schedule by Leigh’s Construction. Over the

winter the internal fit out will occur. Once completed the new facility will consolidate field support and stores in a single area and improve Antarctica New Zealand’s ability to support large-scale science events.

Antarctica New Zealand also hosted four Project K students through its Youth on Ice programme, five artists through the arts programme including invitational artist Dick Frizzell, and TVNZ, TV3 and the Dominion Post who were all there to record key Antarctic events including the 25th Anniversary of the Erebus crash.

The season ended with South to Antarctica, the first ever live orchestral performance to be sent to Scott Base as part of the Christchurch Symphony’s Gala Opening on Saturday night, with live images from Scott Base returned directly to the Christchurch Town Hall.


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