Earlier this month a unique envoy of 20 student voyagers and 23 crew members travelled to the Kermadec Islands aboard HMNZS Canterbury. The Young Blake Expedition was organised by the Sir Peter Blake Trust and sought to inspire a new wave of young leaders, adventurers and environmentalists, by exposing them to challenging environmental issues and allowing them to learn from world class scientists and conservation leaders.
Overseeing the voyage as Expedition Leader was AUT Professor of Sport and Recreation, Mark Orams. A marine and geographical scientist himself, Professor Orams draws on a long history as an advocate for youth education and the continuation of Sir Peter Blake’s legacy. He worked alongside Sir Peter for a number of years, both while sailing with Team New Zealand and as Blakexpeditions’ on-board scientist, and authored a biography about the national icon entitled Blake: Leader. Leadership Lessons from a Great New Zealander.
Professor Orams was delighted to be involved in the voyage, and to share his enthusiasm for conservation, outdoor recreation and exploration. “The Young Blake Expedition was a fantastic opportunity to share a very special part of our country with a group of outstanding young environmental leaders,” he says.
The remote Kermadec region is globally significant for its geology and vast biodiversity, making it a prized landscape for scientists seeking insights into climate change and ocean health. The Young Blake Expedition allowed the 20 students aboard to experience this first-hand. Students further afield were also able to be involved, with classrooms around the country participating in “Ring an Explorer” sessions, and following the expedition’s progress from a distance via regular blog, photo and video posts.
Student voyager Paice Vaughan of Kaipara College blogged: “The more I talk with the marine science team on the expedition the more apparent it becomes that there is still so much to learn about the surprisingly mysterious Kermadec Islands. Many of my questions are simply answered with ‘We actually don't know yet, but we'd love to find out.’ "
“It still amazes me to think that right here in New Zealand's backyard, in an era where we believe we know so much, there is still so much more to learn. We may not find the answers to all of these questions for a long time, maybe not even in my lifetime, but that doesn't mean we won't stop trying to find the answers.”
Professor Orams was equally energised by the expedition and the potential evident in the young environmental leaders aboard.
“I’m thrilled that we are doing this in Sir Peter Blake’s memory. I know he would be delighted that young Kiwis are getting out there, adventuring and learning about our seas and how to better care for them,” he says.