updated 11/2/2007 12:36:41 PM ET 2007-11-02T16:36:41

Ireland donated 100,000 euro ($144,000 U.S.) Friday to the Antarctic Heritage Trust of New Zealand, a charity that protects and preserves the bases of famed South Pole explorers.

The donation came during this week's visit to New Zealand of President Mary McAleese, Ireland's symbolic head of state. She unveiled the gift during an event for the charity in New Zealand's largest city, Auckland.

The trust has found and sought to conserve four bases used by three polar pioneers: Carsten Borchgrevink in 1898-1900, Sir Ernest Shackleton in 1907-09, and Capt. Robert Falcon Scott in 1901-04 and 1910-13.

"Their endless curiosity, and bravery, their love of life and love of this earth, have left us an enduring challenge to know our world profoundly, to respect it utterly and to take responsibility in our time for the times yet to come," McAleese said in her prepared remarks.

She said the world needed to know much more about the forces shaping Antarctica in an age when global warming is already altering the world's climates.

"More and more we are beginning to understand that these magnificent landscapes that seem so remote and unreachable are sending us urgent messages about the effects of our behavior that are vital to our very survival," McAleese said. "I hope that both Ireland and New Zealand will be strong voices in our world for a new global culture of care for our planet, a culture that starts in every heart and every home."

McAleese, who arrived last weekend in New Zealand, returns home to Dublin on Sunday. Her last state visit to New Zealand was in 1998.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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