Antarctica 'a part of me'

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 15/08/2013
Peter Brookman
Supplied

LONG SERVICE: Peter Brookman first set foot on Antarctica 44 years ago.

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An Antarctic old-hand who has a snow-covered section of the freezing continent named after him has celebrated 20 years working for Antarctica New Zealand.

Peter Brookman, who first set foot on Antarctica 44 years ago, discovered part of it was named after him when he joined the organisation in 1993.

"The librarian asked me if I knew that a feature in Antarctica was named after me but I didn't."

He remained unsure when the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names bestowed his surname on Brookman Point, the northwest point of Grant Island, off the coast of Marie Byrd Land.

"I don't know if I felt honoured, but I think there were a lot more deserving people than me."

The American civil engineer was officer-in-charge of Byrd Station for the United States Navy from 1969 to 1970.

Luck played a role in his life-long love of Antarctica.

He was drafted into the navy a day before his 26th birthday and sent off to the Vietnam War, where he spent 13 months.

In those days, if someone was not called into compulsory military service by their 26th birthday, they were able to dodge it. After the war, Brookman wrote Antarctica on his "dream sheet" of preferred next assignments.

"I'd read about it and it looked like a pretty good place for a young single person to go."

In 1970, he returned home but moved to Christchurch five years later to work for the US Antarctic programme, Operation Deep Freeze, for several years. Ultimately, he married his Kiwi secretary and went back to America but the family returned to Christchurch in 1986.

While he might retire next year as facilities manager, he still hoped to fulfil his dream of showing Antarctica to his wife, who had never been there.

"But we may do it as tourists on a cruise ship."

He calculated that he had spent 5 years there from his many trips south over the decades. "Once Mother Antarctica grabs you, that's about it. You are part of her."

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- The Press

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