Kermadec Expedition a fitting tribute to Sir Peter Blake

By Wright Communications

Beside Sir Peter's beloved Waitemata Harbour, the Governor-General Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Pippa, Lady Blake announced an 11-day environmental expedition to the Kermadec Islands next August for 30 New Zealand secondary school students.

"While our hearts are touched with sadness today, I am sure Sir Peter would be proud of the living legacy that his family and the Sir Peter Blake Trust have created during the past decade," Sir Jerry said.

"The Young Blake Expedition is a perfect example of this work, with its focus on two things that were dear to Sir Peter - increasing understanding of our fragile marine environment, and providing a chance for young people to reach their potential.

"I'm envious of the 30 young Kiwis taking part in this life-changing adventure. I'm sure Sir Peter would approve, and if he was here today he would probably want to take the Canterbury's helm as well."

The expedition will be led by The Sir Peter Blake Trust in association with the Ministry for the Environment, the Royal New Zealand Navy, Department of Conservation, Pew Environment Group, Experiencing Marine Reserves and LEARNZ.

Sir Peter Blake Trust chief executive Shelley Campbell praised the hard work of all who had contributed to bringing the expedition to fruition, and said it would be one of the most memorable milestones since the Trust's inception in 2004.

"We are proud to honour Sir Peter's memory today by being able to announce a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to one of the most unique and special places on the planet.

"The expedition aims to inspire an understanding of the global significance of the Kermadec Islands and to encourage stewardship of the Kermadec Marine Reserve. In the latter part of his life, the plight of the planet's oceans was a huge concern to Sir Peter."

The lucky 30 students will be chosen from 50 attendees at next year's Sir Peter Blake Youth EnviroLeaders' Forum, an event run in partnership with the Ministry for the Environment for the last eight years. They will be accompanied by a crew of subject experts, scientists, artists, educators, communicators and leaders.

The Kermadec Islands are 800-1,000km north-east of New Zealand. The 13 volcanic islands are a nature reserve managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC). Four DOC staff and up to five volunteers are based on Raoul, the largest island. The 745,000ha of ocean surrounding the Kermadecs are protected as New Zealand's largest marine reserve.

The expedition crew will have the opportunity to snorkel and gain an understanding of the rich marine life of the Kermadecs. They will experience life on Raoul Island and gain an insight into the work of the DOC personnel, the Kermadecs' history, and the group's wildlife and plants - many unique to the islands.

Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Tony Parr said the Royal New Zealand Navy is proud to support the Sir Peter Blake Trust in the development of our future leaders.

"The protection and defence of our maritime environment is a significant part of the RNZN Mission, which has been enhanced with the introduction of our Protector Fleet.

The trip to the Kermadec Islands displays the capabilities provided by ships such as HMNZS Canterbury, and the versatility of our fleet when co-operating with Government agencies."

Chris Mace, advisor to Sir Peter Blake Trust and founding trustee, was on hand to unveil The Legacy, a special publication which features the Trust's work to date, in front of many of Sir Peter's closest friends and former crew mates.

"Peter touched so many people's lives, in so many places around the world. We know they will be thinking about him today. I'm proud to publically release The Legacy, which encapsulates in just a few pages the impact he still has on all of us".

Editors notes :

Ministry for the Environment

The Sir Peter Blake Trust has added an extra dimension to the Ministry supported Youth EnviroLeaders' Forum by focussing on the environment and developing our future leaders. The Forum is an opportunity for young people to take part in practical environmental projects and to provide them with the skills and experience to take action for the environment when they return to their regions.  The delegates selected are outstanding young environmental leaders in their regions. The trip to the Kermadecs is a unique opportunity for the young delegates to experience the rich marine life of the islands and will provide an insight into the work of the personnel based there.

Pew Environment Group
"We are honoured to work alongside the Sir Peter Blake Trust in support of the youth voyage to the Kermadecs," said Bronwen Golder, director of the Pew Environment Group's Kermadec Initiative.  "This visit to one of the last great ocean wilderness areas on the planet will both inspire and challenge the next generation of New Zealand leaders."

Experiencing Marine Reserves
"The Experiencing Marine Reserves Programme (EMR) offers unique in-water experiential learning opportunities throughout New Zealand.  In its role as an expedition partner, EMR will be providing leadership for the planned snorkelling experience and experiential education framework."
Samara Nicholas, Programme Director

Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust - Experiencing Marine Reserves

"LEARNZ is delighted to have the opportunity to bring the Kermadec Expedition live into primary schools around New Zealand. Over 4,000 primary school pupils will experience the fun, excitement and adventure of the expedition through the eyes of student role models on the expedition. The LEARNZ virtual expedition will result in primary students building their skills and knowledge that supports their ongoing outdoor activity."

Pete Sommerville, LEARNZ Project Director

Earth is a water planet on which the quality of water defines the quality of life. Good water, good life. Poor Water, poor life. No water, no life."

- Sir Peter Blake

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