Nigel Watson Honoured and Farewelled
Former Executive Director of Antarctic Heritage Trust, Nigel Watson, has been awarded the prestigious New Zealand Antarctic medal in recognition of his services to Antarctic heritage preservation.
Throughout Nigel’s 23 years as Executive Director of the Trust, he has dedicated his life’s work to saving the sites of the early Antarctic explorers, raising significant funds to undertake their conservation, and creating programmes that inspire the next generation of explorers.
Mark Stewart MNZM, Chair of Antarctic Heritage Trust, says the Trust is immensely proud that Nigel Watson’s commitment and achievements have been recognised.
“Nigel is driven by deep passion and is an incredibly high achiever. The contribution he’s made to ensuring Antarctica’s cultural heritage is protected has allowed Aotearoa New Zealand to shine on the world stage. His creation of the world’s largest coldclimate heritage conservation project (the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project) has meant that this remarkable legacy has been conserved for future generations.”
The creation of the Inspiring Explorers™ youth programme has been another accomplishment in Nigel’s noteworthy career. Since the programme launched in 2015 thousands of young people have had the opportunity to engage in the programme through expeditions to the world’s polar regions, through New Zealand-based events including summits, conferences and the Trust’s virtual reality experience of Sir Ed’s Antarctic hut.
Nigel has personally led five Inspiring Explorers Expeditions™ to polar environments including Antarctica, South Georgia Island and the Greenland Ice Cap. Nigel was on his way to the South Pole during the Trust’s eighth Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ when it was announced he would receive the New Zealand Antarctic Medal.
Nigel finished in his role as Executive Director of the Trust on 3 February 2023 and was farewelled at an event in Christchurch, attended by Trust stakeholders where Nigel’s enormous contribution was recognised. In addition, the Trust’s Board have appointed Nigel as Emeritus Executive Director.
The International Polar Heritage Committee (IPHC) passed a motion to recognise Nigel with gratitude for his significant achievements in the conservation of Ross Sea heritage.
Thanks to Nigel’s leadership, the legacy of the polar explorers that the Trust cares for will be conserved, celebrated, and made accessible to New Zealanders and the world for generations to come.
Trust Deputy Chair Anthony Wright (right) presents Nigel Watson (left) with the title Emeritus Executive Director. © AHT/Jo Moore
Nigel Watson measures wind speed and temperature during the Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ to the South Pole. © AHT/Mike Dawson