Local Heart, Global Soul

September 28, 2018

Polar Explorers Of Other Types…

Filed under: ART,Commoration Board,plaque — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On the pavement close to the base of the Robert Falcon Scott statue in, Christchurch, New Zealand, are several plaques.

In my opinion they honour people who dedicate their lives to science, ecology and the future of the planet.

They are polar explores of less “historical” type cast but deserve just as much credit for the work they do.

The first plaque features a globe and reads:
“Christchurch and Antarctica.

Christchurch is one of the main gateways to Antarctica.

From the early 1900’s, British expeditions to used the Port of Lyttelton on their way to Antarctica. 

In 1955, Christchurch became the base for the United States Antarctic programmed known as Operation Deep Freeze.

Today Christchurch continues to be used as a base for the Antarctic Programmes of several nations. (1997)” The other plaque features a map of Antarctica and commemorates the work done at the South Pole, at McMurdo (The American Base that New Zealand’s Antarctic base, sharing and other stations on the ice, reading:

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In recognition of all the men and women who have assisted New Zealand’s Antarctic Programme during the 50 years 1957-2007.”
“Sir Edmund Hillary K.G., (Knight of the Garter) O.N.Z. (Order of New Zealand) K.B.E.s(Knight of the British Empire) Patron, New Zealand Antarctic Society. 1977.

I have a cousin who worked at for a short time at the base, and have heard stories about other people who have worked there, including  the Doctor who successfully performed his own appendectomy, using local anesthetic!

Most staff are there only in the Summer months and only a skeleton staff  stay on the ice during the winter months because aircraft can not land to resupply to base. I

t used to be reported in The Press, the Christchurch newspaper about various experiments: what fresh rations survived the drop out the back of a low flying aircraft, during the mid-winter re-supply fly-past and what didn’t. I think that over the years they learned a lot about the impact that comestibles could survive, packing methods, aircraft heights and speeds and so forth.

My cousin taught outdoor survival methods to scientists so that they could look after themselves should calamity befall them whilst out doing experiments or if there were ever to be a fire at the base and they suddenly found themselves without shelter and had to wait without shelter until help arrived.

I saw photographs of from another friend (a Pilot) playing cricket on the ice at midnight, in glorious sunshine, in the long summer days of almost continuous light, looking not at all like the night time that it was. A lot of information about global warming comes from these remote, inhospitable and often dangerous places so the work done on the ice is invaluable for the future of the planet.

There are of course also controversies too, like for instance why the American Christchurch/Antarctic base gets as many winter flights as in summer despite their being a 90% decrease in staff and activities during the winter months and this only happens for them, not for any other nationality on the continent. Ah well, the politics and intrigues of it all run far above my pay grade so I’ll leave the ruminating to the experts. I only hope that Antarctica can be declared the world’s biggest (Inter-)National Park one day so that no-one ever gets to mine minerals there and mankind can leave one continent on the planet behind in it’s pristine state.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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