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PM to visit Antarctica for Scott Base 50th

PM to visit Antarctica for Scott Base 50th anniversary

Prime Minister Helen Clark will visit Antarctica from 18 to 22 January, accompanied by Sir Edmund Hillary, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Scott Base, New Zealand’s Antarctic research station.

Scott Base was established on 20 January 1957 by the New Zealand contingent of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, led by Sir Edmund Hillary.

Helen Clark said she is delighted Sir Edmund is able to participate in this important anniversary.

“New Zealand has a special relationship with Antarctica. Its proximity to us means that our country was closely involved in a number of the earliest Antarctic expeditions, such as those of Scott and Shackleton.

“In the fifty years since Sir Edmund’s team established Scott Base, New Zealanders have played an important role in exploration and science in Antarctica, and there have been many achievements.”

Helen Clark said the founding of Scott Base fifty years ago also marked the beginning of New Zealand’s co-operation with the United States’ science programme in Antarctica, and this anniversary would also be celebrated during her visit.

“In 1957, the Head of the US Operation Deep Freeze, Admiral George Dufek, generously helped Sir Edmund and his party survey and prepare the site for Scott Base. Since then, we have continually had a very close relationship with the United States on Antarctic science, logistics, and important issues within the Antarctic Treaty System.

“New Zealand and American scientists work together on monitoring the ozone hole over Antarctica. They also work jointly on the ANDRILL project which investigates past impacts of climate change on Antarctica and its ice shelves.

“Our scientific collaboration has led to important discoveries in atmospheric research, including in the measurement of ultra-violet radiation and our understanding of the chemistry of the ozone hole which forms each spring over Antarctica. These environmental factors have a real bearing on the health of New Zealanders and other people living in the Southern Hemisphere.

“New Zealand and the US have been operating together out of Christchurch to Antarctica for nearly half a century. We work closely together against illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean, and we actively promote the development of marine protected areas in Antarctic waters. We also co-operate on environmental management in Antarctica, most notably in the unique McMurdo Dry Valleys,” Helen Clark said.

Several high-ranking US officials will join Helen Clark for the celebrations, including Dr Arden Bement, Head of the National Science Foundation which is responsible for the United States Antarctic Program; and Claudia McMurray, Assistant Secretary of State responsible for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Helen Clark said she was also looking forward to seeing the historic Antarctic huts left by early expeditions to the continent, and to seeing the conservation work being done on them.

ends

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