It is an absolute pleasure to welcome you to tonight's civic reception for the opening of the Antarctic summer season.
I have only been a guest at this event before, although in 2008 I spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Helen Clark.
I said then that I had always enjoyed coming to this celebration having made many friends from this shared enthusiasm for the relationship with Antarctica, so it is a real pleasure to be able to welcome you all as the Mayor of Christchurch.
I have had the pleasure of hosting the US Antarctic Programme Director Kelly Faulkner last Feb and more recently Brian Stone, the Antarctic Infrastructure & Logistics Section Head at the National Science Foundation.
I was delighted to have hosted Dr Yeadong Kim, the Director of the Korean Antarctic
Program on a number of occasions in the last year.
I have hosted a civic reception during the COMNAP AGM where I learned that the
COMNAP secretariat will remain here in Christchurch for another 6 year term at
Gateway Antarctica with Michelle Rogan-Finnemore continuing her good work as the
During that time I hosted the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration and was
delighted to hear that the Xue Long - the appropriately named icebreaker, Snow
Dragon - will call into the Port of Lyttelton in January, as the Chinese progress their
plans to build a base on Inexpressible Island. That will be an open day not to be
I have hosted several of the diplomatic and consular corps this morning, welcoming
new representatives of old friends and welcoming back those who have had that role
for some time.
I also welcomed a new representative from Operation Deep Freeze along with our
longstanding friend Art Brown from the Office of Polar Programs National Science
Foundation, from the United States.
Can I welcome all the Antarctic programs back to the city – particularly the United
States Antarctic Program. As I did 5 years ago on behalf of the government, I want to
especially recognise the long-standing valued relationship the city and the NZ Antarctic
Program have with the National Science Foundation, the United States Antarctic
Program and Operation Deep Freeze.
A C17 has arrived in the city this afternoon, once again heralding the opening of the
Antarctic Season for 2014/2015. I intend to become familiar with its flight capability
later this year when I fly to Antarctica. I am looking forward to what is a lifetime
I would also like to welcome back the Italian and Korean programs, who use
Christchurch as their gateway.
The city has a long-standing relationship with the Italian Antarctic Program. And I'd
like to acknowledge the new Italian Ambassador who is representing the program this
year. The Italica was in port again last season.
Five years ago in my speech I noted with some enthusiasm that the Korean Antarctic
Program was considering Christchurch as a potential base for its logistics operations.
That has been realised and this year the Koreans opened Jang Bogo Station which
means around 200 scientists and researchers will come through Christchurch this
summer. The Korean icebreaker Araon will again be in port this season and KOPRI
have confirmed their intention to open a Christchurch office this season.
Can I of course acknowledge the NZ Antarctic Programme – the importance to the city
of Antarctica NZ being based in Christchurch cannot be over-stated. The relationship
between Antarctica NZ and the city is just going from strength to strength and I thank
the chair, Rob Fenwick and new CEO Peter Beggs for that.
I should also recognise the city's infrastructure that supports the Antarctic programs –
Christchurch International Airport (new Chief Executive Malcolm Johns) and the
Lyttelton Port Company (Chief Executive Peter Davie).
It is appropriate in this evening's context that I recognise the valued Antarctic Research
being undertaken by NZ Antarctic Research Institute, and by the various universities
including our own University of Canterbury's Gateway Antarctica.
Gateway Antarctica was successful in winning 4 of the 7 Antarctic funding proposals
from the NZ Antarctic Research Institute in the last funding round.
The Antarctic Heritage Trust has an important role as well conserving the expedition
bases left by the Antarctic explorers. I also ackowledge our international and local
Antarctic communities for their passion – including the NZ Antarctic Society
Canterbury branch and the Antarctic Endeavour.
Antarctica is a critical part of who we are as a city and what our future holds. As I
remind people, Christchurch is only one of five gateway cities to Antarctica in the
world. This connection creates important economic, cultural and scientific benefits for
Christchurch and links us to an international network of shared research and
knowledge about Antarctica and the future of our planet.
In recognition of all these factors, we have as a city recently confirmed 'Christchurch's
Antarctic Gateway status" as one of our top priorities.
Antarctica is accorded a special place in New Zealand's national identity. As our
weather often reminds us, little lies between our islands and that great continent. But
more than that, we live under Antarctica's spell - Antarctica holds a fascination for New
Zealanders. Perhaps no New Zealander has been influenced more by Antarctica, or
achieved more there, than the late Sir Edmund Hillary and I acknowledge Lady Hillary
for honouring us with her presence again.
I am reading a 500-plus page book on Antarctica at the moment in preparation for my
visit. There is much about the history of Antarctica's long-awaited discovery.
James Cook concluded that no one could make it further south than 71°10'S, saying that
whatever "inexpressibly horrid" land might lie beyond the pack ice "would not be
worth the discovery". How wrong he was.
And now all that remains for me to do is to wish you all a safe and successful season.
The opening of NZ IceFest 2014
I am delighted to be launching NZ IceFest 2014. The benefits to the city and the country
of celebrating our special relationship with Antarctica are enormous.
This is an important opportunity to showcase NZ-led Antarctic science and the benefits
of international co-operation.
The Festival hub has been relocated to the centre of the city so that it also contributes
to bringing life and vitality back into the CBD
I want to acknowledge and thank the NZ IceFest 2014 key sponsors that have worked
with the city:
· NZ Major Events (a department of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and
· Antarctica NZ
· The US Antarctic Programme
· Canterbury Community Trust
· University of Canterbury
· Canterbury Museum
· Christchurch Airport
· GNS Science
· Media Partners: The Press, TRN and iSite
May I commend NZIceFest Director Chloë Dear and her passionate team for the
excellent festival and programme.
And on that note I declare NZIceFest 2014 officially OPEN.