Nelson teenager Mitchell Chandler is journeying south into the great unknown this summer.
Mitchell, 17, is one of 12 young leaders chosen by the Sir Peter Blake Trust to travel to the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands in February with a group of environmental scientists. There, he will help plan a world-leading new climate change research station.
The group will travel aboard the Royal New Zealand Navy's HMNZS Wellington and spend about eight days at sea, with up to five days on the Auckland Islands.
Mitchell said the opportunity to join the expedition came after he participated in the Young Environmental Leader forums last year. From there, he missed out on the first young leaders' trip to the Kermadec Islands, but was selected for a similar trip to the Auckland Islands this year.
He said he knew very little about the Auckland Islands, but jumped at the chance to learn more. "I was like, why not? That sounds like a great opportunity."
Mitchell said he had found out that the island environment would be between 5 and 15 degrees Celsius while he was there, saying they had "pretty amazing" biodiversity. He listed sea lions and migratory birds, including albatross, as some of the species he was looking forward to seeing.
He said he was strongly considering majoring in environmental science when he left high school, saying school trips to the Denniston and Stockton plateaus this year had fired his enthusiasm for protecting New Zealand's unique environment.
"Everyone says, ‘Do the small things' and that's good, we've got to do the small things, but I think the Government has got to lead by example."
He will need to raise $500 in funds before the trip, saying the campaign was more about raising awareness of the trust's work than gathering money. He planned to hold a movie night later in the summer.
The trust's programme director, Hannah Prior, said the students were selected for their natural leadership abilities and their roles in leading environmental projects and initiatives at home.
She said that on the sub-antarctic expedition they would help draft a feasibility study for the establishment of a research station. The station will allow both local and international agencies to work together on climate and marine science programmes.
A second group of young people will be sent out in 2015 joined by the Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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