Mana activist on mission to Antarctica

Last updated 10:21 13/02/2012

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The Mana Party says it supports a party activist aboard an illegal mission to Antarctica but was unaware of his actions.

Busby Noble, who worked on the on the party's Tamaki Makaurau campaign candidate Kereama Pene during last year's election, has planted a Mana Party flag in the Antarctic ice.

Party president Annette Sykes says she was unsurprised he took the flag with him on the controversial voyage skippered by Norwegian adventurer Jarle Andhoey.

"We support certain values and one of them is asserting our independence as a Maori nation," she told Radio New Zealand.

"It doesn't surprise me that someone who visits Antarctica takes the opportunity to assert his tino rangatiratanga like he has done."

Sykes said she doubted he left the flag in the ice.

"Knowing him he would have bought it back and he will hold it as a badge of honour."

Andhoey left Auckland last month on a controversial mission to find the remains of another yacht, the Berserk, thought to have sunk in McMurdo Sound, killing three crew members.

The yacht had sunk while Andhoey, 34, and companion Samuel Massie made an attempt to reach the South Pole by quad bike without authorisation.

The latest voyage has also not been given official sign off.

Pene said he had been speaking daily to Noble since the Nilaya sailed from Auckland on January 23 and the crew had been experiencing ''beautiful weather''. He had also been reporting on the yacht's whereabouts to the government.

''I've been keeping tabs on him.''

He said the yacht had reached the Antarctic ice shelf in the last day or so and the crew would spend about a week on the ice before returning to New Zealand.

Pene said Noble had been getting ''a bit of stick'' because he did not have a New Zealand passport when he left the country, but was instead travelling under an illegitimate Tino Rangatiratanga passport.

He said Noble had approached him to see whether he could take a Mana party flag to the ice and place in a symbolic gesture so that the spirit of his dead friend could be released.

Pene said he and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira had no problem with Noble taking a flag.

Noble had been ''paying his way'' on the voyage by undertaking mechanical repairs.

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- Fairfax Media

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