Mike Dawson – Mentor and Ambassador

Mike is partnering with the Trust as kayaking mentor and inspiring young New Zealander on the 2019 Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula. Mike is a two-time Olympic whitewater kayaker who grew up paddling local rivers in his backyard in sunny Tauranga. During his extensive career, he competed in the London and Rio Olympic games, as well as in 11 world championships. Slalom canoeing and his thirst for adventure have taken Mike around the globe seeking to challenge the world’s wildest, most remote rivers in Chile, Uganda, Pakistan and beyond. Mike has mentored young people through his role as an Olympic Youth Ambassador. He is passionate about inspiring the younger generation to get out, be active, and explore.

Lana Kiddie-Vai (16 from Auckland)

Lana is in Year 13 at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, where she supports her interest in the field of science by studying physics, biology and chemistry. She plans to pursue a career in that field in the future in either medicine, engineering or psychology. Lana hopes to be able to travel the world when she is older, and one of her goals is to study abroad in either Asia or Europe. Lana says she was inspired to apply to join the Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition because she would have an adventure in the coldest place on earth. She says while she is excited to see the different types of animals that live in such a climate, she is a bit nervous of the long 30 hour journey to get there as her longest flight so far has been four hours.

Mele Fetu’u (16 from Auckland)

Mele grew up in South Auckland as the third eldest in a family of eight children. Now in Year 13 in 2019, she has been a student at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate for her entire schooling life. She enjoys the outdoors and being active, and plays soccer for the Collegiate in winter. Her other interests include going to the movies (especially horrors), baking and reading a wide range of books. Mele says she was immediately interested to apply for the expedition as she recognised it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity she never could have imagined being able to experience. Mele is anticipating the cold to be a challenge as it is something she is not used to, but thinks it will be more than worth it to see diversity of animal life, and the fascinating geology of the area.

Caragh Doherty (36 from Auckland)

Caragh is the Head PE teacher at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, and has taught there for twelve years. She is a proud Scottish lass but has adopted Samoan culture and a love for the Otara community. Caragh’s two young sons keep her on her toes, and she also enjoys being active in the outdoors.Caragh is passionate about young people and feels fortunate to teach Physical Education and Health on a daily basis.Joining the Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition gives Caragh the chance to challenge herself away from her familiar surroundings, and she is excited about the opportunities she sees for her personal growth. Caragh says she will also be in the ideal situation to do what she loves most, supporting her students.Caragh knows her biggest challenge will be spending just over two weeks away from her young family, as they haven’t been apart for longer than one night before.

Georgie Archibald (29 from Christchurch)

Georgie has spent four years teaching in various tertiary institutions and is currently Learning Advisor Pasifika, Learning Services at Ara Institute of Canterbury. She also mentors Pasifika high school and tertiary students through Ara and Pasifika PowerUp. A self-described story-teller with a Law degree and Masters in English Literature, Georgie also holds tertiary certificates in Digital Media, Publishing and Adult Learning.Born and raised in Christchurch, Georgie is of proud Tongan and Palangi heritage. She studied in Dunedin and undertook postgraduate study in Boulder, Colorado for two years on a Fulbright Scholarship. During her time in America she spent a month on a solo bike tour traveling from Boulder to San Francisco, California. She is a keen outdoor person who enjoys camping, hiking, fishing and recreational watersports. Georgie regularly plays tennis and disc golf, and enjoys skiing and snowboarding each winter.

Leah Stewart (23 from Auckland)

Auckland-based Leah is a freelance camera operator and photographer, and also works as a disability support worker. In 2017, Leah made a life-altering decision to donate her left kidney to a school friend who had end-stage renal failure. This was one item on a bucket list for life she wrote when she was 16. Travel to Antarctica is another item on her list she is excited to complete.

Her inspirational YouTube channel ‘Wheely Wacky Adventures’ combines both her passions, with the vlog series following the thrill-seeking adventures Leah has with her best friend Alicia, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. A Bachelor of Communication Studies graduate, Leah majored in Television and Screen Production and was awarded the AUT Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship. Leah’s short film ‘The Voice’ screened at film festivals both in New Zealand and internationally, and won three international awards.

Marco de Kretser (18 from Auckland)

Having just completed his final year at Glendowie College, Auckland taking out the prize for top Photography student, Marco plans to study a conjoint Bachelor of Arts (Screen Production) and Bachelor of Global Studies (Global Environment and Sustainable Development). This will combine his love of the arts with his care for the environment. Marco is passionate about photography and filmmaking, as well as being a self-taught DJ and electronic music producer, with a large number of plays on music sharing platforms, as well as on national radio. Marco has been an avid adventurer from a young age, having hiked through many New Zealand trails as well as in the Austrian and French Alps. His other interests include recreational watersports, wildlife and football.

Rosanna Price (28 from Wellington)

From Wellington, Rosanna is currently on secondment from Land Information New Zealand at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage as a Senior Communications Advisor.With a Bachelor of Communications from Massey University, majoring in Marketing Communications and background as a former journalist with Fairfax Media (including the Press Gallery), Rosanna has worked as a freelance writer and social media manager.Having completed a trek to Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas, Nepal, travelled through South America and explored the Otway rainforest from the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia, Rosanna is a keen explorer and makes time to try new experiences locally as much as possible.More recently, Rosanna has become a mother to son Solomon, which is in itself a whole new adventure.

Alexander Hillary (22 from Auckland)

Raised in Auckland, Alexander has been living in Melbourne, Australia while completing his Bachelor of Industrial Design (Honours) at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.An experienced photographer and videographer, Alexander’s work has been used for presentations on National Geographic Expeditions and features in a permanent exhibition at Middlemore Hospital. He aspires to be a visual storyteller and is keen to capture the uniqueness of the Antarctic Peninsula through his lens.As the grandson of iconic Kiwi explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, Alexander has a deep connection to the history of Antarctic exploration. With a goal of climbing the Seven Summits (the highest peaks on the seven continents), Alexander is keen to continue in the spirit of exploration.In his spare time Alexander enjoys trail running, skiing and cycling. He has hiked extensively in New Zealand, Europe and South America, and completed mountaineering trips to Russia and New Guinea.

Nigel Watson

Nigel is the Executive Director of the Antarctic Heritage Trust. The Trust cares on behalf of the international community for the first expedition bases left in Antarctica’s Ross Sea Region. These include iconic huts left by the Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Carsten Borchgrevink and Sir Edmund Hillary.

Nigel conceived and has overseen the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project – the world’s largest cold-climate heritage conservation venture. He has led expeditions to Antarctica over the last two decades. With a background in mountaineering and skiing, he has skied the Shackleton route across South Georgia Island, skied to the North Pole, traversed the Greenland ice cap, and climbed Mt Scott in Antarctica.

Nigel is passionate about sharing the legacy of early polar exploration with a new generation of young explorers, with the hope that they will in turn share their own experiences to inspire others.