Malcolm Macfarlane to lead NZ Antarctic Society

Malcolm Macfarlane was elected as the new President of the New Zealand Antarctic Society at the society's Annual General Meeting in November 2003. Margaret Bradshaw had previously held the post for 10 years.

Malcolm first visited Antarctica in 1983 when he was seconded from his job as a scientist with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

He was selected to be Summer Leader at Vanda Station, a forward support base, with a staff of four, that supported various science programmes.

Vanda Station in the Wright Dry Valley became Malcolm's favourite Antarctic spot and he was one of the lucky few who spent a last night in Vanda Station during its later demolition.

Three years later Malcolm returned to Antarctica for a whole year as the Operations Manager and Senior Scientific Officer at Scott Base. During his 12-month stint he was the Officer-in-Charge over the winter with a staff of 13. He returned from the ice to a fulltime position with Antarctic Division, DSIR, in Christchurch.

From 1988 to 1995 Malcolm had a variety of roles in Antarctic Division, including Advisory Officer, Scientific Liaison Officer and finally Operations Manager for the New Zealand Antarctic Programme During this period Malcolm was the Senior New Zealand Representative at Scott Base for five half summers.

During his time working in Antarctica, Malcolm says that he enjoyed the long summer days, the winter, the sense of achieving something worthwhile in a very special location, and the wide range of people he has worked with.

Now Operations Data Manager for the Fire Service in Wellington, he still regularly visits Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

After leaving the Antarctic programme in 1995 Malcolm has worked as a government representative on board various tourist ships (World Discoverer, Frontier Spirit, Kapitan Khlebnikov and the Marco Polo) visiting the Ross Sea and the Subantarctic islands.

He has also been a guide and lecturer on the World Discoverer, Marco Polo, and most recently the Crystal Symphony in 2002-03.

Altogether Malcolm has made some 43 trips to Antarctica, and stayed there over 1300 days.

His shortest Antarctic trips have been as brief as four days while the longest trip lasted almost 54 weeks in 1987-88.

Malcolm has been honoured by having a locality named for him, Macfarlane Bluff, by the New Zealand Geographic Names Board.

In recent years Malcolm has spent increasing amounts of time in the Falkland Islands, working for the Sub-Antarctic Foundation for Ecosystems Research (SAFER. The foundation owns some small islands in the West Falkland group and these are currently being restored to provide wildlife habitat. This is as good as working in Antarctica", he says.

Malcolm joined the New Zealand Antarctic Society (NZAS) in 1983 when he was accepted for the job at Vanda Station. Since that time, Malcolm has found membership of the Society a useful way to learn more about what is happening in Antarctica in general and to stay in contact with other "Antarcticans".

During his time as President, Malcolm hopes to continue the excellent work done by Margaret Bradshaw.

He wants to ensure that the Society is financially viable so that it can move forward and continue to bring the Journal to its members.

A key function of the NZAS has been the production of Antarctic, the Society's journal, and for many members it has been the best way of staying up-to-date, especially once their own Antarctic activities cease or slow down.

Malcolm believes it is absolutely essential that this service is continued.

Malcolm hopes to make communication and finding out information easier for both members and the Society's volunteer office holders.

He says that as we are all busy people he hopes to introduce new tools that will help communication. Malcolm also aims to improve the public 'front end' for the Society, which will most likely be web-based.

Finally, Malcolm would also like to see the Society get more involved in a consultative way with discussion of current Antarctic issues and policy development.

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