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Shackleton's Hutt In World's 100 Endangered Sites

Media Release

September 25 2003


The only building left in Antarctica by the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton has been identified as one of the 100 Most Endangered Sites on Earth.

The building is included in the World Monument Fund's 2004 World Monument Watch list, released in New York today. An international panel of experts selected the 100 sites on the list, considered to be the world's most imperiled historic architectural and cultural treasures. The Watch list brings the sites to international attention and helps to raise funds for their rescue.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark as Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, profiled the announcement today. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage supported the nomination and has provided core funding assistance to the Antarctic Heritage Trust, a New Zealand charity that seeks to care for the site.

The Trust's Executive Director, Nigel Watson, said the listing was highly significant.

"This listing highlights the international significance of this important site. New Zealand has taken a strong leadership role in caring for this part of the world's cultural heritage," he said.

The listing confirmed this unique site's position in the first tier of world heritage. "Sites listed previously include the Great Wall of China; the Valley of the Kings, in Egypt; Petra, in Jordan; the Old City in Damascus; the Taj Mahal; Pompeii; Borobudur; Machu Picchu; and Mesa Verde," he said.

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World Monument Fund President Bonnie Burnham noted that this was the first time that a site in Antarctica had been selected for the World Monument Watch list, and said "The Watch list includes sites ranging from ancient cities, to modern industrial buildings, to religious and civic structures, to entire landscapes. Inclusion on the list is often the only hope for survival for these threatened cultural monuments."

"The challenge now is to appeal to the international community to fund the remaining estimated US$2.6 million needed to implement the work and conserve Shackleton's hut and its remarkable contents," Nigel Watson added.

"This is a world-leading heritage project in a remote environment. It is another example of New Zealand leadership in the heritage sector. Servicing the project will have spin-offs for the New Zealand and Canterbury economies and will help conserve a fantastic legacy for future generations," he said.

The World Monument Fund listing comes on the back of funding to conserve Shackleton's hut from both the New Zealand Government, delivered through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, and the prestigious U.S. based Getty Grant Program.

Media Backgrounder:

Shackleton's Hut

Built by Ernest Shackleton as part of his British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909, known as the Nirmod Expedition. Built in 1908 at Cape Royds on Ross Island, Antarctica.It is one of only a few intact wooden buildings remaining on Earth's southernmost continent, dating from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration.The expedition is known for pioneering firsts including the first ascent of Mt Erebus, the first motor vehicle on the Continent and reaching the furthest south at the time.

Within 97 nautical miles of reaching the South Pole Ernest Shackleton turned for home. The building, which was used as an expedition base and laboratory for scientific research, was designed to withstand extreme weather conditions only for the duration of Shackleton's expedition.Nearly a century of Antarctic blizzards later, the building still stands, with thousands of the expeditions artefacts still there. . However they have decayed considerably and are in need of urgent conservation. A comprehensive conservation report specifically for Shackleton's hut was launched in March 2003 by Antarctic Heritage Trust. Antarctic Heritage Trust

The Antarctic Heritage Trust, formed in 1987, is dedicated to the conservation of Shackleton's and Robert Falcon Scott's buildings in Antarctica. Last year the Trust's Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project to save these sites for future generations was launched by HRH Princess Anne in Antarctica. The project was launched in response to progressively losing the battle to save these valuable heritage sites. In March this year Prime Minister Helen Clark launched a detailed conservation report proposing policies and actions to conserve the hut.

World Monuments Fund

Since its founding in 1965, the World Monuments Fund has achieved an unmatched record of successful international conservation projects in more than eighty countries. From its headquarters in New York, and working with affiliates and offices in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as with partners around the world, WMF brings together public and private support to implement a comprehensive conservation effort that includes project planning, field surveys, fieldwork, on-site training in the building crafts, advocacy, and the development of long-term strategies for the protection of sites.

Launched in 1995, the biennial World Monuments Watch, with its list of 100 Most Endangered Sites, is one of the major program areas of the World Monuments Fund. American Express is founding sponsor of the World Monuments Watch.

For additional information about WMF and its programs, the public can visit www.wmf.org.

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