Lizzie Meek from the Antarctic Heritage Trust is this year’s recipient of the New Zealand Antarctic Society’s Conservation Trophy. It is an award to “any person or organisation contributing significantly to any aspect of Antarctic or Sub-Antarctic conservation”.
This contribution can be to the conservation of flora or fauna, or to the preservation of buildings, sites, or artefacts of historical significance.
The Conservation Trophy was presented to Lizzie at the midwinter dinner hosted by the Antarctic Society’s Canterbury Branch. Lizzie is the Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Artefact Conservation Manager. She helps to care for the historic huts in the Ross Sea Region. The Society awarded Lizzie the Conservation Trophy as her professionalism, dedication, and commitment to conservation work under extreme conditions is outstanding.
The Trust’s latest project is the conservation of Borchgrevink’s Hut at Cape Adare, the first building in Antarctica – constructed in 1899. The conservation of this hut is extremely difficult from a logistical point of view and because of the weather conditions. Another challenge is the environmental requirements, as this is a place where Adélie penguins spend their breeding season. The conservators and their support team have had to find ways to both meet the regulations to protect and not disturb the wildlife and to complete their conservation tasks.
Lizzie is one of the contributors to conserving the first physical signs of human presence in the Antarctic. The early huts and sites are an important part of the history of exploration and science on this continent. At the same time, they raise awareness of Antarctica’s vulnerability in the global earth and climate system, and also of the vulnerability of human life at this particular place.
Lizzie emphasised in her acceptance speech that she is contributing as part of a large team, and she accepted the award on behalf of her fellow conservators and supporters.
The trophy itself is a miniature emperor penguin in African walnut. It was carved by Patrick Malcahy, and presented to the Society in 1971 by Peter Voyce. Previous recipients have included Dr David Harrowfield, Baden Norris and Neil Gilbert.
Visit the Antarctic Heritage Trust for more information on their conservation work.