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Goff, Hillary to Antarctica for Erebus anniversary

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

24 November 2004

Goff, Hillary to Antarctica for Erebus anniversary

Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Sir Edmund Hillary travel to Antarctica tomorrow to take part in ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the Mt Erebus disaster.

All 257 people on board Air New Zealand Flight TE901 died when the plane crashed on the slopes of Mt Erebus on 28 November 1979.

Mr Goff will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony near the crash site and then he and Sir Edmund will attend a memorial service at Scott Base, to be led by Dean Peter Beck from Christchurch Cathedral.

“Despite the passage of time, the memory of the Erebus disaster remains fresh in the minds of the many New Zealanders touched by the tragedy. This service is an opportunity to honour the memory of those who died, and to recognise the impact the disaster had on our country,” Mr Goff said.

“Antarctica is an unforgiving place, with a history of triumph and tragedy. It is appropriate that I am joined on this visit by Sir Edmund, given that he is synonymous with New Zealand’s Antarctic endeavours.

"Sir Edmund supervised the building of Scott Base in 1957, and the next year he made history by driving a Massey-Ferguson tractor to the South Pole. He has visited Antarctica many times since."

While in Antarctica, Mr Goff and Sir Edmund will dedicate the Hillary Field Centre, a heated all-weather storage facility named in recognition of Sir Edmund’s Antarctic achievements.

“The Hillary field centre, which is under construction, is the largest single construction project ever under taken at Scott Base. Its opening will allow the removal of a number of old storage facilities, making the base much more energy efficient,” said Mr Goff, whose ministerial responsibilities include Antarctica.

"Its completion will be particularly welcomed by Scott Base staff who currently work in temperatures as low as minus 45 degrees in an aircraft hanger built in 1960."

Mr Goff and Sir Edmund will also visit several historic huts, including the Trans-Antarctica Expedition (TAE) hut – the first building erected at Scott Base by Sir Edmund. They will tour the neighbouring American base, McMurdo Station, and visit several science projects before returning to New Zealand.

ENDS

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