A Queenstowner is set to play a pivotal role in a proposed $150 million Scott Base upgrade.
Antarctica New Zealand has appointed Brit Matt Johnson, Wakatipu High’s executive officer, as its chief engineer.
His first task is to secure Treasury funding put forward in a business case.
Johnson: “We are nailing down what the design will look like. I take on the project director role – the over-sight, looking at the develop-ment of the masterplan, what we need the base to do.”
All assets, machinery and utilities are being looked at – everything from heating and light to water treatment.
“All the important bits you need to keep going, particularly in that kind of environment where you cannot afford for anything to break down.”
Johnson wasn’t able to share specific details but says plans will ensure Kiwis can continue science and environmental programmes within the Antarctic.
Johnson, who has lived in Queenstown since 2012, has an impressive CV.
He trained as an aerospace engineer in Manchester, has worked on military aircraft and defence in the United Kingdom, on signalling for the London Underground and in space and satellite communications in Europe.
That was before being distracted by his Kiwi wife, Poppie, during what should have been a three-week holiday in NZ.
Johnson was approached for the role by a recruiter. He didn’t hesitate.
“It is an absolute dream job – who you are going to be working with, the aims of the organisation as well as the actual day-to-day stuff you will be involved in.”
He’ll surf between his Jack’s Point home and Antarctica NZ’s office in Christchurch.
Johnson will visit the Antarctic base itself a couple of times a year.
His first trip is planned for January when he’ll meet the team and see the base for the first time.