Thursday, 27 February 2020


Making a difference to planet Earth

Making a difference to planet Earth

Known locally around Tairua and Whitianga as “that guy in camo,” Pete Bethune is a hero to most. Others think he’s crazy. He’s been holidaying in the area since 1997, so knows the area well. His mother lives in Tairua.

Pete Bethune became somewhat of a “brand” when the trimaran he skippered was rendered bowless after a run-in with a Japanese whaling ship in 2010. Subsequent media coverage propelled Bethune and the anti-whaling protest into the lounges of the world.

But well before this, our local hero was on a mission to make a difference to the planet. Residents from towns around the Coromandel Peninsula may remember the boat, Earthrace docked at their town’s wharf, before she was shrouded in a cloak of black paint and renamed the Ady Gil.

Pete Bethune was on a different sort of quest back then. He sought to break the world record as the fastest powerboat to circumnavigate the globe - without leaving a carbon footprint. And he took the bio-fueled boat into coastal ports around New Zealand to promote his record attempt and attract sponsors.

People from all over the country stepped down into the boat’s tiny cabin space. As a publicity stunt, Bethune had liposuction and converted his fat to fuel - but this didn’t help his 2007 world record attempt. His 2008 attempt however, smashed the record in an electrifying 61 days, shaving 11 days from the previous record.

People from around the Coromandel Peninsula are applauding “that guy in camo.” Bethune’s good friends in Whitianga, Dive Zone’s Darrell and Linda Bird admire Pete’s passion for the environment. If he is in the country, Pete is often the guest speaker at their annual Dive Festival.

“We’re delighted with the decision of the International Court of Justice, not only because it will stop the killing of whales in the Antarctic by the Japanese, but also because, for Pete, it’s a personal victory. One he completely deserves,” said Linda.

Back in 2006, when speaking of the multitude of environmental issues screaming out for advocacy, Bethune described himself as “a lion in a field of zebras.” In terms of making a difference to planet Earth, we could say there is one

less zebra in the field for Pete Bethune.


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