Maori link with snowy Antarctica

Last updated 07:12 21/01/2013
KARL DRURY/Fairfax NZ

A Ngai Tahu carving is unveiled in Antarctica.

Relevant offers

Politics

Has the tide finally turned? New Zealand flag options narrowed down to four Labour MPs go against leader on charter school Richie McCaw backs new flag for New Zealand Sir Edmund Hillary's daughter applauds 'beautiful' new NZ banknotes New agency to unlock potential of $1b worth of Auckland Council land RECAP: Final four NZ flag designs unveiled Western North Island flood recovery gets another $2.6m boost from the government The New Zealand flag debate - time to care? Earthquake Commission has spent $68m on travel John Key claims mood 'reasonably positive' as optimism hits six year low

New Zealand's Maori links have been stamped firmly on Antarctica with the unveiling of a pou whenua at Scott Base's 56th birthday.

Ngai Tahu leader Sir Mark Solomon and Prime Minister John Key jointly uncovered the totara carving in a formal ceremony yesterday with Scott Base staff and invited guests from the United States' McMurdo Station.

As they removed the sleeping bag covering, the sun briefly shone and a patch of blue sky appeared above, a brief break in the constant snowfall that has blanketed the base since soon after the prime minister arrived on Friday.

Sir Mark joked with the crowd that the pou did not mean Ngai Tahu was about to lodge a claim on Antarctica.

"I thought I better reassure the prime minister of that."

He said it was a privilege that Ngai Tahu, as the southern-most iwi, was asked to carve the pou.

The pou, called Navigator of the Heavens, was made of totara from the West Coast, which he was confident would withstand the rigours of Antarctica's harsh environment, despite it developing several cracks since its arrival on the frozen continent.

Mr Key said the pou was a "very meaningful addition" to the base.

"Scott Base has a place in the hearts and minds of New Zealanders even if they haven't visited here. Maori culture is enshrined in who we are as New Zealanders and to have this representation here is a lovely touch."

Two woven tukutuku panels were also unveiled, a project headed by Ngai Tahu master weaver Ranui Ngarimu, assistant to Sir Mark.

One panel symbolised Maori ancestors interwoven with New Zealanders who had died in Antarctica, including the 257 passengers and crew killed in the 1979 Mt Erebus plane crash.

The other paid tribute to the scientific work continuing on the southernmost continent.

Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Lou Sanson said about a third of his staff at the base were military and many were Maori.

A new carved wooden sign for Scott Base was also unveiled.

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

Where do you stand on political coat-tail riding?

If it gets marginalised voices into Parliament, I'm for it.

I'm against it - if you don't get the votes, you shouldn't be there.

It's just part of the political game.

Vote Result

Related story: Voters reject riding on the coat-tails

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content