I ended my comments at the civic reception on Friday night by quoting from a book I have been reading about the history of Antarctic exploration and referencing James Cook's search for Terra Australis Incognita 'The Unknown South Land'.
But the discovery they were seeking was not the discovery that we seek today. Back then claiming possession was about owning the resources of the discovered land.
Today it is about unlocking the history of the planet and developing knowledge about our future.
We feel the race for discovery not as a competition for ownership but as a collaboration
for knowledge. And that is as we now know a race against time.
I probably don't need to say a lot about Christchurch's historic links to Antarctica, as
they are well known.
As the scene setter I wanted to talk about the vision for Christchurch that this history
I remember when Doug Ahlers from the Kennedy School of Government was here for
the International Speaker Series as part of the Council's 'Share an Idea' he asked the
question: Why Christchurch? He said before we think about our future, we need to ask
Here's my answer:
· We face the Canterbury Plains – food and water security are global issues;
· We face the coastline – another global issue with half world's population in
large coastal cities exposed to far more extreme weather events and sea-level
· We face natural hazards much closer to our city than we thought – we can
contribute to understanding of physical sciences and new building
technologies, as well as the opportunities to build resilience in our
communities, economy and our natural and built environments.
· We are now linked to the world of risk, the understanding & measurement of
which are equally interesting to governments as they are to insurers and
· We are the gateway city to the South island, the Aoraki-McKenzie Dark Sky
· We are one of only 5 gateway cities to Antarctica a place where by international
treaty we do not exploit for commercial gain and where nations search for
knowledge and understanding about the future of our planet.
The United States, Italy and Korea base their support for their National
Antarctic Programmes here in Christchurch - with their scientists, researchers,
engineers, technology and environmental managers visiting regularly.
We are home to COMNAP secretariat – just confirmed for another 6 years.
We have a range of partnerships: University of Canterbury & Gateway
Antarctica, Lincoln University, NIWA, Antarctic Heritage Trust, the Antarctic
Attraction and the Museum;
· we have a strong international airport and seaport to support all that we do.
· We are passionate about sport, which challenges us to think about the role of
protein, diet and exercise – we could take on the global obesity challenge that
affects so many cities;
· We love theatre, music, cultural events, art – creativity has a home here;
· We have some of the world's leading expertise on all of these in our world-class
Universities, Institute of Technology, Crown Research Institutes, organisations
and private companies – innovation is what we do
The Lonely Planet and New York Times both highlighted the energy, innovation and
creativity that are marking our transition from what we were to what we will become.
We need to capture that energy and turn our attention to the global issues we can help
resolve here. We can be global leaders helping to solve global problems. We are small
enough to test solutions and big enough to produce meaningful results.
That does not make us a living laboratory, but a hothouse where ideas will be seeded
And that is the legacy that we can claim from our early association with Antarctica.
That is why our council has recently confirmed 'Christchurch's Antarctic Gateway
status" as one of our top priorities.
The city is placing huge importance on its Antarctic status, activities and international
and local partnerships. As a sign of our commitment, the Council is planning to
establish an Antarctic Office as a coordinating point for Antarctic-related economic
development and civic relations in respect of Antarctica. The Office will act as the city's
Antarctic liaison point across a whole range of players throughout Christchurch.
The Council is also working with Canterbury University, economic development
agencies, central government and tourism-related agencies to support the Antarctic
Endeavour. This community-led initiative aims to leverage the unique opportunity that
Christchurch has to offer in developing a joint research, education and visitor
attraction facility that reinforces Christchurch's role as an Antarctic gateway, builds
upon our long history of scientific endeavour in research and exploration and
recognises our strength as an Antarctic air and sea logistics base.
This is in line with central government's injection of $24m over 5 years for Antarctic
research through the Deep South Challenge, hosted by NIWA recently announced.
Antarctica is such an important part of our history, but it is also a stepping stone to an
exciting future. And our relationships with the Antarctic Programmes especially the
United States has connected us to that world of opportunity we will explore together.