“I joined the Greenpeace boat ‘Rainbow Warrior’ in Jacksonville, Florida in 1984, and helped convert her to a sailing ship. Acting on a plea from Rongalap islanders in the Marshall Islands we relocated them to escape fallout from US nuclear testing which had made them very ill … Then I settled down in New Zealand and was Third Engineer on the ‘Rainbow Warrior’ when she was blown up by the French secret service on Marsden Wharf 1985.
"I sailed up to Moruroa Atoll with Greenpeace in the 1990s to protest against French nuclear testing their, and then to Antarctica to establish a permanent base as part of our successful campaign to turn the continent into a protected World Park.
"That gave me the idea of building ‘Tiama’… a smaller boat that would be a fraction of the cost of a big research vessel. It took me seven years to construct in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn, although I promised my wife it would only take two. She’s made of steel and has double bottom floors, and closely spaced frames to make her ice resistant. She also has a lifting keel and rudder for the ice. ‘Tiama’ means ‘standing clear’ in Tahitian Maori …
"My first job was a charter to the Kermadec Islands for the Auckland Museum gathering geological specimens and some underwater samples. Our next trip was around Cape Horn and to the Antarctic Peninsula … taking some climbers who wanted to scale a virgin peak in Antarctic. Then we spent 2-3 months on the Great Barrier Reef in 1999 mobilising towns along the Queensland Coast to oppose shale oil development there. We were concerned about pollution run-off damaging the reef.
"From 2000 I worked 'Tiama' as a charter boat for the Department of Conservation, NIWA, and the University of Otago ferrying scientists and researchers to the Sub Antarctic islands. This has been her bread and butter work ever since, and I spend about 100 days a year at sea. We proved you can safely do an expedition to Antarctic waters using a small purpose-built vessel like 'Tiama' …
"The trips to these Islands are helping conserve the wildlife, particularly seabirds … 75% of the world’s albatrosses breed on the NZ’s Sub Antarctic Islands. Two years ago 'Tiama' was part of a fleet of half a dozen boats that sailed to Raglan on the west coast, where they were doing exploratory drilling for oil. Our intention was to warn against the dangers of deep sea oil drilling.
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