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Al Fastier


Programme Manager and vintage tractor driver for Expedition South.

Job description: 

To oversee the building and artefact conservation programmes for each of the five historic expedition bases under the Trust’s care as part of the Trust’s long-term cold-climate conservation project, the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project.

Work background: 

I have spent the last 10 years working for the Antarctic Heritage Trust. Before that I had an extensive career working for the Department of Conservation throughout the South Island where I was given the opportunity to spend extended time working on remote sites such as Raoul Island and Stephens Island.

Initially I trained as an electrical engineering technician then after having an early midlife career crisis I obtained a degree in Parks and Recreation Management from Lincoln University, New Zealand which gave me a broad theoretical understanding of personnel, logistics and heritage management. I first visited Antarctica in 1987, and during my 18 visits to the Ice I have worked for Antarctica New Zealand, the U.S. Program and as a NZ government representative on tourist ships.  

I have found in my career that one job opportunity leads to the next like stepping stones. In my early career I would have never thought that I would end up working in the world of polar heritage.

Least favourite part of job: 

Missing out on the New Zealand summer each year.

What I am working on now: 

Coordinating the conservation programme and associated logistics required to conserve the original Scott Base mess building (Hillary’s Hut)  this  Antarctica Summer. This building was constructed in 1957 and used to support Sir Edmund Hillary’s Trans Antarctic Expedition and the International Geophysical year science programme. This was the birth of  New Zealand’s Antarctic Science which continues at New Zealand scientific base, Scott Base.

A quick story about a job well done: 

Leading the conservation team that successfully  conserved Ernest Shackleton’s base at Cape Royds, and Robert Falcon Scott’s iconic bases at Cape Evans and Hut Point. This was a 10 year conservation programme which operated continuously in Antarctica and involved 62 conservation specialists from 12 different nationalities.  It was fantastic to have been involved in such an exciting international project and to have had an opportunity to work with passionate, dedicated people from such a variety of backgrounds and professions.

A (humorous) story about a job that went badly and what you learned: 

Typically, conservation work never goes as planned in Antarctica due to the remoteness of the historic sites, bad weather and the complexity of the work. It is easy to become upset and frustrated when things don’t go as planned. The good news is that I have learned that with hard work, stick-ability, working with passionate dedicated people, humour and a pinch of good luck, anything is achievable and there is no such word as impossible. As a wise person once said: It always works out in the end and if it is not working out, it is not over!


Degree in Parks and Recreation Management

Interests outside work: 

When not working for the Trust I spend the majority of my recreational time cycle touring and tramping both in New Zealand and overseas. I have tramped in many locations around the world but my highlight was in 2013 when I tramped the length of the South Island. Last year I cycle toured in Peru over some of the world’s highest mountain passes. Next year I plan to head back to South America and go cycling in Patagonia.

Al Fastier will be driving a heritage Massey-Ferguson tractor on Expedition South - Image: AHT.