Sir Ed's hut builder wants credit for his work

The man whose team built Sir Edmund Hillary's Hut at Scott Base says he's upset he's never received any acknowledgement for his efforts.

Many others in Sir Ed's crew have received Antarctic and Polar medals but, as others celebrate the 60th anniversary of the hut, 88-year-old Randal Heke says he feels he's been overlooked.

Mr Heke was asked to manage the build of the base in 1957. He and his team spent a month living in tents in temperatures as low as -15degC.

"It was new to me, I had to look up Antarctica to see where it was, I didn't know much about it," he says.

He's never been formally recognised for the work. He says he'd like to receive an Antarctic Medal for his contribution, but it requires a nomination.

"I get a bit unhappy to see so many others who've been down there, who've never done the same amount of work I did, nor carry the responsibilities I carry, have received some form of honour."

Hillary's Hut was the first building constructed at Scott Base, New Zealand's only Antarctic research station. A $1 million project by the Antarctic Heritage trust has restored it.

The base was built in Wellington and shipped to Antarctica on HMNZS Endeavour.  

"One of the most exciting parts of going to Antarctica is going down through the pack ice," Mr Heke says.

It was from the base that Sir Ed led an expedition to the South Pole the following year.

Many of the original buildings have gone, but that's not all that's changed.

"I never thought women would get down there, but they do. Because it's so cold," Mr Heke says.

In a statement, the Prime Minister's office said: "The Government is very aware of Mr Heke's valuable contribution to New Zealand interests in Antarctica, but doesn't comment on individual cases."

The honours secretariat confirmed it has received a nomination for Mr Heke, so his long wait could finally be over.