As soon as he heard that the Trust’s virtual reality experience of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Antarctic hut had been launched by the Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Gus Anning registered on the website for the VR to visit his children’s school in Tairua . Gus and his family are based in a small rural community in the Coromandel, New Zealand.
Gus’ enthusiasm around the VR was due to the fact he had been a part of the Trust’s 12 person team conserving the hut. Under a partnership with the New Zealand Antarctic Society, Gus was one of two volunteer painters who helped transform the hut back to its original bright colours.
Spending three months in Antarctica, with the Trust’s team who invested over 6000 hours on-Ice to conserve the hut in time for Scott Base’s 60th anniversary, was life-changing for Gus. The chance to revisit the conserved hut within the Trust’s VR experience was something really special.
“It was actually quite emotional and definitely very exciting stepping back inside the space I had helped paint. The detail was insane! It was like I was back there! The little window latch in the radio room got me. I had forgotten it but remember taking it off and cleaning it.”
Gus joined the Trust’s Public Engagement Officer, Sarah Bouckoms in the classroom during the VR’s four day visit and gave presentations, sharing with the students the challenges of painting a hut in Antarctica – sometimes in below freezing conditions!
“All 100 kids at Tairua School really enjoyed it and learnt so much about Antarctica, Sir Ed and Scott Base. To be honest I don’t think it ever crossed their minds. But now it is definitely at the forefront of their thoughts, with a whole week of Antarctic studies.”
Local media covered the story of the VR’s visit to Tairua and were thrilled to interview Gus and share his connection to this iconic New Zealand building in Antarctica, that has been conserved for future generations by Antarctic Heritage Trust.