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Auckland student joins Pacific expedition

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/06/2017

A schooner that belonged to Sir Peter Blake, and on which he lost his life, is heading back to New Zealand as part of a two-year Pacific expedition.

On board the Tara, previously known as the Seamaster, will be Auckland University Master of Science student Neelam Hari.

The 23-year-old has been chosen by the French-based ePOP project to be part of an international group of young observers raising awareness of environmental issues.

She will join the Tara when it arrives in Suva on Wednesday and will sail on the leg to New Zealand, using a mobile phone to shoot a short film about climate and environmental change.

The Tara is expected into Auckland on July 1 and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the Sir Peter Blake Trust are planning a welcome in the harbour.

The icebreaker is midway through an oceanographic voyage to study reef biodiversity in the Pacific, which is home to more than 40 per cent of the world's coral reefs.

Sir Peter, a champion round-the-world sailor who lead New Zealand's successful America's Cup challenge in 1995, was shot dead by pirates during a research expedition in the Brazilian Amazon in 2001.

The vessel will be returning to New Zealand for the first time since then.

It was renamed by a French philanthropist and has completed 10 expeditions across the world's oceans over the past 13 years to study climate change.

The ePOP project is a separate initiative to raise awareness of island nations' vulnerability to rising temperatures.

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