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Friday, March 2, 2018

Saving the Antarctic

Air New Zealand (rated the best airline for six years in a row) is famous for its funky safety videos.

Once bound in our seats, we have watched "creatures" from Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit series tell us how to latch and unlatch our seat belts and so forth, and All Blacks, beach-babes, and primal survival gurus telling us the same thing.

It has all been rather fun, though tedious if you fly a lot.

Now the series has hit a crunch.

Air New Zealand has done the non-political thing.  The latest safety video (I haven't seen it) pushes the pristine Antarctic as an Adventure Paradise.

Well, that is what a prominent environmentalist is telling us, according to the news.

UN Environment Patron of Oceans and endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh famously swam the Ross Sea off Antarctica - clad only in his trademark speedos to raise awareness about protecting the region.
Dubbed the "Sir Edmund Hillary of swimming", he later helped broker the establishment of a Marine Protected Area, the largest protected area in the world, in the Ross Sea.
Mr Pugh yesterday heard Morning Report's interview with Nicholas Bennett, whose father was the chief purser on the Air New Zealand DC10 which crashed into Mt Erebus in 1979, killing all 257 on board.
This morning he told the programme Air New Zealand have got it "really badly wrong" after releasing their new safety video yesterday.
"It portrays Antarctica as the next great adventure playground," he said. "Let's be very clear, it is not."
"Antarctica is a unique eco-system and it's very precious. It has already been heavily impacted by climate change and pollution."
"We have a duty to protect this continent and all the incredible animals that have live there for thousands and thousands of years undisturbed," Mr Pugh said.
"We have to remember that in Antarctica we humans are guests."
It's also "deeply disturbing" that the safety video was filmed a few kilometres away from Mt Erebus, he said.
"Has Air New Zealand forgotten about Air New Zealand flight 901?"
"There will be sons and daughters and mothers and fathers who now get on an Air New Zealand flight and have to watch this safety video," he said.
Mr Pugh pointed out that Sir Edmund Hillary was meant to be on the flight but could not go. Instead his friend and mountaineer Peter Mulgrew went. Mr Pugh said he wondered what the public's reaction to the video would be had Sir Edmund been killed instead, and whether Air New Zealand would still have made the video.
"Everybody in New Zealand knows about this flight. This safety video was filmed just a few kilometres away from Mt Erebus. It's an extraordinary decision," he said.
"This video is very poor taste and it sends the worst message about protecting Antarctica. It's a unique continent, and its not the next recreational playground.
However Air New Zealand has defended its new safety video set in Antarctica saying it is tasteful.
Air New Zealand's chief pilot, David Morgan, said earlier this week the airline approached filming in a sensitive way and had been very careful to ensure none of the footage used would feature Mt Erebus or memorial sites.
He said they had received positive feedback from family members after they told them of their decision to film.
Mr Pugh had a sharp message for Air New Zealand:
"I'm calling on the CEO to show leadership and to withdraw this safety video immediately," he said.

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