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Pasifika students setting sail for Antarctica

20 November 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

Two South Auckland students are preparing to venture off on a trip of a lifetime next year to Antarctica. 

Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate students Mele Fetu'u and Lana Kiddie-Vai will be off to Antarctica in March. Photo/ PMN.

Mele Fetu'u and Lana Kiddie-Vai from Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate will be travelling in March to the most southern continent of the world with New Zealand-based charity Antarctic Heritage Trust on a 10-day trip.

The trust has a vision of inspiring a new generation of explorers and a new partnership with Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate has given Fetu'u and Kiddie-Vai an opportunity they never had dreamed of. 

"I feel pretty special and I'm really excited at the same time," says Kiddie-Vai.

"Because we're Pacific as well, we're the first in our family to go somewhere so far and cold."

To apply, the Year 12 students were required to write a letter to their dean Gerschen VanNiekerk about why they should go on the trip.

"One of the girls in their application said the only thing that they know is Ōtara, they want to go beyond Ōtara and go beyond the walls of this place and see the world," says VanNiekerk.

It will be the fourth Inspiring Explorers' expedition by the Antarctic Heritage Trust and executive director Nigel Watson says the students will be the first Pasifika to be involved.

"We're really excited about broadening this programme and opportunity to Pasifika and to people who may not otherwise have thought of Antarctica as somewhere they would want to explore."

Antarctic Heritage Trust executive director Nigel Watson with Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate students Lana Kiddie-Vai and Mele Fetu'u and kayak champion and Olympian Mike Dawson. Photo/ Supplied.

Kiddie-Vai and Fetu'u are now working part-time and selling toffee apples respectively to raise their contribution of $500 each towards the trip.

They say their families were at first fearful and reluctant to let them be a part of the expedition but are now proud of their selection.

VanNiekerk says the opportunity will help put their school on the map and inspire others to always dream big.

"This is just an opportunity for students to feel that they can achieve against all odds and what people think."

"They're not doing it for them only, they're doing it for their family, they're doing it for other students, they're doing it for the whole Pacific."

And the girls are ready to do just that.

"Because of where our school is they seem to stereotype a lot of us out here... The fact that Pacific teenagers are going on this trip is defying those stereotypes," says Kiddie-Vai.

"I'm just privileged to represent our school and our community," says Fetu'u.