This issue started life as a marine special, commissioned to mark Seaweek, a perennial maritime feast to which we lend our support. For a nation that embraces, and is embraced by, the sea, it is always an issue set upon with some interest. It was also to be my first issue tentatively stepping into the large editorial shoes of a magazine with a legacy spanning nearly twenty years.
Then on January 11th Sir Edmund Hillary passed away, and New Zealand paused. Over the lingering summer we marked the passing of a distinctly Kiwi brand of champion who achieved what few of us could ever hope to. Average New Zealanders go on hikes in the hills and drive around town; Sir Ed climbed the highest mountain, drove a tractor to the South Pole and was knighted, twice. He was not, as he described himself, “an average New Zealander”, yet he embodied the sorts of qualities that all of us could aspire to–determination, modesty and a firm belief in self.
Sir Ed was also the patron of this magazine, lending his name to it since the first issue in 1989. So in this issue you will find the marine features accompanied by Vaughan Yarwood’s reflection on Hillary’s life and legacy; from his fi rst school trips into the hinterland, to the giddy heights of Everest, the South Pole and the long legacy of exploration and philanthropy in Nepal that Hillary considered his greatest achievement. From the roof of the world we then descend to its basement—Arno Gasteiger turns his lens upon aliens on earth; the bizarre inhabitants of the deep sea, Kennedy Warne (the founding editor of this magazine) looks at the reserves protecting New Zealand’s submarine treasure chest and we contemplate the enigmatic behaviour of stingrays.
And as we remember our patron, a page turns also for New Zealand Geographic. I acknowledge the special contribution of the previous editor Warren Judd, who was with the magazine in one role or another since the very first issue and editor for more than 20—he has left to attend to the pressing realities of a farm and the alluring call of travel. Mark Bathhurst also, whose considered editing went almost undetected yet greatly sharpened stories, also departs. Andrew Caldwell, who has designed 54 issues to date, remains a mainstay of the Geographic team and with nose pressed to the LCD screen once more, puts form to the prose and photos for yet another issue. And we welcome on board a new deputy editor Margo White, who has contributed to the magazine in the past and in myriad ways has shaped the issue before you.
Some may have noticed Jeffrey Stilwell’s project digging up penguin bones from the late Cretaceous profiled on One News last month. He was joined by Nina Densley who won our readers’ competition in issue 88 and was thrilled to accompany his team. His work, supported by New Zealand Geographic continues, and in coming months we will also be announcing the establishment of a charitable trust to oversee a fund for various geographical projects—and a new patron, who, I dare say, has even larger shoes to fill than I.