Zealand in Antarctica
The History and Activity of
New Zealanders in Antarctica
New Zealand has a long history in Antarctica.
Official involvements of expeditions and the
establishing of a permanent base was slow to
begin compared to other countries, though as
an island nation and one of the last ones
you get to before you reach Antarctica, many New Zealanders
have joined ships on the way south, crewing and
otherwise involved in many trips
and expeditions from the earliest
days. New Zealand was involved in
the International Geophysical Year, IGY and
has a modern scientific bases going back
nearly 60 years and is currently at the forefront
of modern research in Antarctica.
New Zealand was one of the very first
signatory nations of the Antarctic Treaty
in 1960 and is a consultative party with voting
rights able to make decisions about
1957 - present
Antarctica New Zealand - 1961 - present. A
Crown Entity that has the responsibility for
the New Zealand Government's activities in
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
The total annual budget is $24.7 million New
Zealand dollars made up of $17 million New
Zealand dollars in science support and $7.7
million New Zealand dollars from the
Ministry of Science and Innovation/NZ
Universities/Crown Research Institutes.
Scientific research is carried out by
scientists mainly from New Zealand
Universities and Crown Research Institutes.
Scott Base in summer
Antarctica New Zealand is based in
There were no New Zealand organized or
funded expeditions to Antarctica during the
Heroic Age, though New Zealanders took part
in a number of expeditions often playing
British Antarctic Expedition 1907- 1909
McGillion - trimmer
Born 1885, Dunedin, NZ
M.R. Meyrick -
trimmer - Born 1880, Lyttleton, NZ
- fireman - Born 1885, Lyttleton, NZ
- AB - Born 1883, Wellington, NZ
- fireman - Born 1881, Lyttleton NZ
Mawson - Aurora 1911-14 -
Australasian Antarctic Expedition
Hamilton - Biologist
- Single, born in Napier, New Zealand. Graduate
of the Otago University. Besides being employed on the New
Zealand Geological Survey, he acted as Entomological Collector
to the Dominion Museum at Wellington. A member of the Macquarie
Island Party, of which he was the Biologist for two years, H.
Hamilton visited the Antarctic during the final cruise of the
`Aurora' in the summer of 1913-1914.
Dr. Leslie H. Whetter -
- A graduate of Otago University, New
Zealand, joined the Expedition as Surgeon, acting in that
capacity at the Main Base (Adélie Land) during 1912. He
accompanied a sledging party which explored to the westward of
Dr. Leslie H. Whetter
J. Sawyer - Wireless Operator - Single, was born in New Zealand. Having had
considerable experience in wireless telegraphy, he joined the
Expedition as an operator from the Australasian Wireless
Company. At the Macquarie Island Station he was chief wireless
until August 1913, when on account of illness he returned to New
Captain - Endurance
1914 - 17 -
British Trans-Antarctica Expedition
- 1921 - 1922 -
Quest- Ernest Shackleton
indispensable to the Endurance expedition, Worsley's uncanny navigational
skills could hit small islands at hundreds of miles range with only
occasional readings, the minimum of instruments and in the worst
possible conditions. Frank
Bases and Research after 1922
British, Australian and New Zealand
Antarctic Research Expedition 1929-31.
BANZARE - Douglas Mawson. The
French had in 1924 laid claim to Terre
Adelie or Adelie Land in the sector directly
south of Australia. What became popularly
known as BANZARE was an attempt by (now Sir)
Douglas Mawson and others in Australia to
encourage the government to file a similar
claim. After a meeting in London, a joint
expedition was proposed, partially privately
funded, it used the RRS Discovery and had a
small floatplane. The expedition didn't
overwinter in Antarctica but consisted of
two summer cruises in 1929-30 and 1930-31,
surveying and mapping by ship and from the
air. Land was claimed as British territory.
It led to the establishment of the
Australian Antarctic Territory.
New Zealand Cape Expeditions 1941 - 1945.
Wartime operations to check for enemy
activity around New Zealand's southern
islands. It was thought that German raiders
might be using harbours on some of the
sub-Antarctic islands. Small parties of
observers were placed in small hidden huts
in the Aukland Islands and Campbell Island
to watch for shipping and make
meteorological observations. No enemy
shipping was observed. Meteorological
observations at Campbell Island were
continued until 1995 and scientific reports
by naturalists were published.
Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1955
- 1958. Funded by the governments of
Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South
Africa, this was an attempt to do what
Shackleton had set out to do in 1914, to
cross the Antarctic Continent from sea to
sea via the South Pole. Led by the British
Vivian Fuchs from the Weddell Sea and New
Zealander Edmund Hilary from the Ross Sea.
Hilary arrived at the Pole on the 4th of
January 1958, Fuchs on the 19th, they both
reached the Ross Sea again on the 2nd of
tractor towing a load of tractor fuel at
Scott Base during the Commonwealth
Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1957
is a historical claim of the Ross Dependency dating
back to 1923 when the Governor-General of
New Zealand was appointed as the Governor of
the Ross Dependency by an Imperial Order in
Council made in London.
The region is that area of Antarctica
between 150°W and 160°E and extending to
the South Pole.
New Zealand is one of seven nations that made a claim
to land in Antarctica before the Antarctic Treaty of
1961, these being Argentina, Chile, the United
Kingdom, France, Australia, New Zealand and Norway.
The UK, France, Australia, New Zealand and Norway
all recognize each other's claims, these are
The Antarctic Treaty, Article IV § 2 states:
“No acts or activities taking place while
the present Treaty is in force shall
constitute a basis for asserting, supporting
or denying a claim to territorial
sovereignty in Antarctica. No new claim, or
enlargement of an existing claim, to
territorial sovereignty shall be asserted
while the present Treaty is in force”.
So the Antarctic Treaty does not suspend or
defer existing claims, though it does state
- No activities occurring after 1961
can be the basis of a territorial claim.
- No new claim can be made.
- No claim can be enlarged.
Practically though territorial claims
have been effectively suspended since 1961.
Image used courtesy TUBS,
license via Wikimedia Commons