One of the first blogs I wrote when I set up this site told the story of Kiwi singing sensation, Lorde. At the time, she was one of the most successful singers in the world having been at the top of the music charts in many countries as well as winning 2 Grammy Awards. It was impossible to talk about New Zealand music without mentioning Lorde. Today, she is seldom heard of being replaced by the new, young female singing sensation Stella Bennett, known as Benee.

Although Lorde (real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor) has not performed for over a year, and gone silent on social media, she has not retired to the suburbs to grow potatoes. She has in fact, been to Antarctica to see first hand what the New Zealand scientific team have been doing. It turns out, Lorde is passionate about the environment and is particularly concerned about climate change.

Lorde in Antarctica (Tumblr

On January 24th last year, Lorde, along with her photographer friend Harriet Weir, travelled to the New Zealand Antarctic camp at Scott Base for a six day tour of the ice continent. During the trip, she also stayed at Windless Bight on Ross Island where she was given field training to further understand the work being done by the Kiwi scientists. Lorde then visited Robert Scott’s hut at Cape Evans. It was erected in 1911 by the British Terra Nova Expedition of 1910 – 1913. Lorde would have been shown how insulation for the rectangular, 50 feet (15 m) long and 25 feet (7.6 m) structure was provided by seaweed sewn into a covering resembling a blanket and placed between double-planked inner and outer walls. The roof was a sandwich of three layers of plank and two layers of rubber ply enclosing more quilted seaweed. It would no doubt, have given her insights into how the environment can be used without being adversely exploited.

I’m sure another highlight of Lorde’s trip to Antarctica would have been the opportunity to see Ernest Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds, 23 miles from Scott’s hut. This wooden shelter was also prefabricated in England (in 1907) and it was from this hut that Shackleton and his men climbed nearby Mt. Erebus. This is the second highest volcano in Antarctica and will ever be remembered as the site of New Zealand’s worst air crash where in 1979 an Air New Zealand sightseeing jet slammed into the side of the volcano killing all 237 passengers and crew onboard.


Because of her international success, New Zealand authorities agreed to host Lorde’s trip to Scott Base because they saw the potential her visit would have on her generation. Lorde told her fans in a recent newsletter: “The continent has fascinated me since I was old enough to read. It started to interest me again in recent years as my environmental awareness went up and up, and questions about how to change my personal footprints on this earth occupied much of my time.”


Although there have been a number of delays in the release of her third album, Lorde is about to officially release her first book in February. Going South is primarily a picture book with 100 images documenting her 2019 visit to Antarctica. Pre-release copies were available on the singer’s online store but they sold out in 10 minutes. Proceeds from the sales of the book will go towards funding a scholarship on climate change research. It will no doubt have messages about protecting the environment and her observations and newly acquired knowledge will give weight to her comments and suggestions. The Kiwi Antarctic authorities are certain Lorde’s pulling power with her millions of fans will have an impact and may just also have a positive influence on the way her generation will act towards the endangered world environment.


As far as her music goes “In my opinion, the greatest treat I can give you is work that will last ten, twenty, thirty years and that kind of work takes time.” the singer wrote in a newsletter to a select group of fans. In the meantime, she is well aware there is no time to waste as far as protecting the environment and addressing climate change is concerned. She has also told her fans that she feels inspired to get back to writing songs and has apparently re-started work on her next album. I have a feeling some of her new songs will have environmental messages, inspired by her visit to the ice continent. It will be interesting to see how much her music has evolved since she released her last album three years ago. In the meantime, Kiwi music fans are enjoying the bright, upbeat music of the nation’s new music darling, Benee. However, it must be said Lorde has had a huge impact on the world’s music scene and her power to influence her generation must not be underestimated.

Ceidrik Heward

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