Antarctica NZ boss is 'coolest dad'

19:43, Nov 25 2013
Peter Beggs
JOINING ELITE GROUP: Antarctica New Zealand's newly appointed chief executive Peter Beggs.

Antarctica New Zealand's newly-appointed chief executive has discovered an unexpected link to Scott Base on his first-ever trip to the icy continent.

Former Christchurch man Peter Beggs, 45, spent last week in Antarctica learning more about his dream job, which he will start in mid-January.

During the five-day trip, he spotted an old Weltex plastic welder stashed in a corner.

His father spent his entire engineering career working for the Christchurch firm which produced welded PVC stationery products.

Beggs, New Zealand's country director for high-end electronics firm Thales, worked for Weltex as a youngster in his holidays.

One of his jobs there had been attaching labels to identical machines so he pondered if that included the one at Scott Base.


"I can't wait to email this photo to my mother," he said, laughing as he showed a snap of the welder on his phone.

His first impression of Antarctica when he stepped out of the United States Air Force C17 Globemaster plane on to the sea ice runway was the expected "oh my God, I've landed on Mars and it's white and really cold".

The trip was to build his understanding about Antarctica New Zealand as an organisation.

It included attending a full Antarctica New Zealand board meeting, going to several historic huts from the heroic era of Antarctic exploration and visiting Cape Bird's Adelie penguin colony.

"It gave me a really good grounding for me to start with running feet in January.

"I was extremely proud of the team that was there."

His experiences on the ice made him determined to focus on promoting the relevance of New Zealand's work in Antarctica.

"It's the one thing I'm going to bring back and I intend to work with the team to make sure that the relevance is pushed out as far as we can to all New Zealanders."

Beggs was "flabbergasted" with the level of collaboration between different countries, spending time with people from the Italian and United States bases as well as scientists and conservators at Scott Base, many of whom harked from around the world.

The father-of-two was born and raised in Christchurch, studying engineering and commercial law.

He worked overseas for about two decades before returning home more than three years ago to work for Thales New Zealand, based in Wellington.

Beggs planned to shift his family back to his hometown soon.

His 7-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter were impressed with their dad's new role.

"No pun intended but I think they feel that they are going to have the coolest daddy in town. But in reality, I'll be joining an elite group as everyone at Antarctica New Zealand is the coolest to their friends and whanau.

"Obviously I'm very excited to be leading such a great organisation and apart from the wow factor of the environment itself, I had a genuine wow factor for the team and the people, the scientists, the conservators, the volunteers."

He is scheduled to return to Antarctica in late January after taking the organisation's reins.

The Press