Revealed: The documentary footage filmed on Sir Peter Blake's final voyage

Sir Peter Blake's boat Seamaster is returning home to Auckland tomorrow for the first time since he was killed on board in 2001.

The two-time America's Cup winner was making a documentary series about the oceans and the environment when he was killed by pirates.

Newshub has exclusively obtained never-before-seen footage of Sir Peter on that final journey, and sat down with his wife Lady Pippa Blake, to watch it.

While filming the documentary, Sir Peter questioned: "What can one person, what can one crew on one boat do? Why bother? We can do a lot."

By then, he had already done a lot.

He was the first to win New Zealand the America's Cup, twice claiming victory in the yacht race. They were the underdogs funded by the Red Socks campaign - Sir Peter's lucky red socks originally given to him by Lady Pippa.

The country loved its champion yachtsman, the likes of which had never been seen before. He was a hero and when he died, killed by pirates, his death stunned the country.

Sir Peter Blake final voyage documentary videos Newshub (supplied)
Sir Peter in one of the never-before-seen videos. Photo credit: Supplied

Now, for the first time, we can show you what he was filming on his final voyage. His death was so unexpected the footage was boxed up and put away, emerging only now, 16 years later.

In the videos, Sir Peter detailed his dream for Blake Expeditions.

"I see it like a snowball - start very small and gradually get bigger and bigger and bigger," he said.

"It's going to be starting from the bottom up. I want to get to every classroom of every school in the world, long-term."

Lady Pippa now lives in England but continues to work with the Auckland-based Sir Peter Blake Trust, which digitised the footage.

"To actually see him speaking and speaking about his mission and his original intent for Blake Expeditions, it was just wonderful to actually witness that and see that again and be reminded of how he was, really, himself as a person," she told Newshub while watching the videos for the first time.

Lady Pippa watching Sir Peter Blake final voyage documentary videos (Newshub.)
Lady Pippa watching the videos for the first time. Photo credit: Newshub.

Sir Peter was a Kiwi bloke, a yachtsman-turned-television presenter, and he didn't always get it right on the first take. The hidden footage reveals the human behind the icon, with bloopers aplenty.

"It's really hard," he jokes at one point after flubbing a line several times.

Sir Peter was one year into a five-year adventure, filming ecologically significant regions to document their fragility and to inspire people to want to protect them.

It's a documentary series which never reached completion, cut short like Sir Peter's life.

He was 53 years old when the so-called 'river rats' boarded Seamaster. They didn't know they were killing a Kiwi icon.

Sixteen years on, Lady Pippa says it doesn't get easier.

"I can still well up with tears and cry about it... I've never felt angry about it there was no point," she said.

"Quite often we'd say, 'Gosh, what would we be doing now? What would Dad be doing now? What would Peter be doing now?'. And you know, he was cut off in his prime."

Sir Peter Blake final voyage documentary videos Newshub (supplied)
Sir Peter in one of the never-before-seen videos. Photo credit: Supplied

When Sir Peter died, Blake Expeditions came to an end. Lady Pippa sold the boat Sir Peter adored and a French family bought it, vowing to continue his legacy.

"He loved that boat... He was not a super yacht, luxury cruising person at all, he needed function," Lady Pippa said.

"As he saw Seamaster he realised that she was the right boat for him. I used to call her like a 'Mad Max machine'."

Now after 16 years, the legendary schooner has made it to New Zealand. She's been tucked away in Whangarei ahead of her Auckland homecoming.

Newshub was granted exclusive access to board and go below decks, and there remain remnants of Sir Peter everywhere - red socks, a book, and a photograph of him.

On the night he died aboard Seamaster, Sir Peter wrote what was to be his final diary entry. In it he posed the universally important question: Why are we here?

"We need to appreciate the things we have before it's too late," he wrote.

"We need to restart people caring about the environment like it must be cared for. We want to make a difference."

In a way, he's still making a difference. The boat is now called Tara and since his death, it's travelled more than 300,000 kilometres on scientific expeditions.

Its new captain Samuel Audrain says he's sure they're continuing Sir Peter's old work.

On Saturday, the boat which once sailed away with so much excitement and hope will return to New Zealand. But this time, the great Kiwi leader won't be on board.

Lady Pippa knows it'll bring a flood of memories, but she hopes it'll remind people of everything he stood for.

"He was this tall, shaggy, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Kiwi, who was passionate about his country," she said.

"He loved New Zealand, he loved what New Zealand stood for, and I think that's what he should be perhaps most remembered for."

In his final video recordings, Sir Peter said his goal was for everyone to watch his documentaries and consider how they could help protect the oceans and environment.

"I want to get into people's living rooms regularly, I want people to want to watch what we're doing," he said.

"We're not doing just your ordinary old documentaries. This is going to be documentaries with a difference.

"Why bother? It's too important not to. For all of us. Think about it."


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