On 12 April the Antarctic Society Canterbury branch, the Canterbury Museum and the Lyttelton Museum Society celebrated two important birthdays. Baden Norris, the founder of the Lyttelton Museum, gets 90 years old on Sunday, 16 April. He is a “walking encyclopedia” in Antarctic history matters. Baden and his teams saved the historic huts in the Antarctic in the 1960s and he was long time curator of the Antarctic collection at the Canterbury Museum – what he is still doing on a volunteer basis.
The other birthday-boy is Alex McFerran. At the very day as Baden he will celebrate his 95th birthday. He overwintered at Scott Base in 1970 – 1971 as electrician and dog handler. At this time his colleagues and he were digging out the Hillary tractor and repaired it and brought the vehicle to Scott Base. The tractor is now on display at the Canterbury Museum. in 1974 – 1975 he overwintered at Campbell Island and was involved in erecting and maintaining the meteorological station there. For his achievements in the Antarctic and his long time membership in the Antarctic Society, Canterbury branch, he was awarded with the life-membership.
It is always amazing meeting these people and hear their stories about the days in the Antarctic. Both men’s experiences in the Antarctic are recorded via the NZAS Oral History project. A wonderful source for current and future historians.
Alex McFerran receives his life membership certificate
Alex McFerran and Baden Norris at their birthday event
The “Nathaniel B. Palmer” is the US research vessel I have seen two weeks ago in the dry dock in Devonport, Auckland, and now I had the chance to visit her last Friday in Lyttelton. We were a small group and we got a very interesting tour through the ship. The captain spoke to us and we had the chance to discuss some details about the way how research logistics can work and how many institutions are involved in such endeavours. People were busy on board to load and store technical equipment and provision.
This is our group (I am on the very left). With courtesy Peter McCarthy
Nathaniel B(rown) Palmer was a sealer from the US. He has an anniversary this year: he died on 21 June 1877. He discovered parts of the Antarctic Peninsula. Palmer was also a ship designer, explorer and sailing captain. Palmer station is named after him as well.
It was an interesting afternoon.
Deutsche in der Antarktis: this is another book review which is published in the Polar Journal. Cornelia Luedecke wrote an interesting book on the German Antarctic expeditions from the Heroic Era until today. This account is only available in German but – hopefully – she can be persuaded to translate it into English to get a wider readership more familiar with names like Drygalski, Filchner, Ritscher, etc. as addition to the well known one like Scott and Schackleton.
A conference, organised by the NZ Antarctic Society and the Royal NZ Navy, was held in Auckland. Friday, 24 March 2017, was the cocktail party at the Naval Museum in Devonport where the participants came together in a relaxed atmosphere.
The picture shows me, Philippa Ross and Myra Walton in the Naval Museum.
On Saturday, 25 March, were the presentations of different speakers. I have been invited to this conference to present the international perspective of the Heroic Era. My focus was on the German, Swedish, Japanese and French expeditions which took place at this time. I also provided a context of why these expeditions undertook science in the Antarctic and how it was linked to the economic and political circumstances at the time. Some of these links are still in place and are regulated by the Antarctic Treaty System. It turned out during the conference that the Heroic Era is mainly a British Edwardian concept. This time of Antarctic explorations is stated usually from 1897 – 1917; however, sometimes it is also pointed out that the end was at 1922 when Ernest Shackleton died at Grytviken on a heart attack. This is a matter of debate but much more logical to end it in 1917.
A service was held on Sunday at the chapel of St Christopher. After the service a guided tour took place around the Naval Base.
“Nathanial Palmer” in the dry dock for repair and participants of the conference at the tour.
After lunch the presentations continued until 4 pm in the afternoon. The conference was concluded with drinks and lots of lively discussions until 5:30pm.
The conference was very well prepared by Brett Fotheringham, CDR, Roger McGarry and Mike Wing from the Auckland Branch of the NZAS. Of course many people helped in the background for the the conference run smoothly.
More photos can be found on the NZAS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/150773471684015/?ref=bookmarks
Since Wednesday (22 March) I am in Auckland to meet Drew Lorrey (my boss at NIWA) to discuss further progress for the NSC-DS which ends for me at 30 June 2017. However, this does not stop me to continue the work in searching logbooks to collect weather data. The Maritime Museum has logbooks but mainly in diary format what is not of use for our project.
I gave a public talk on “How to live in the cold” at 13 March at the Merrin Ladies Club, Avonhead.
The presentation was a success, with many questions asked over a cup of tea afterwards.
At 14 March I was invited to the Riccarton Men’s Probus Club to give a similar presentation. Two of the gentlemen had been to the Antarctic and remarked how different it is today compared to how it was decades ago.
One man said: “I learned in one hour more about the Antarctic than I learned in the last decades ….” it seems I have done a good job.
It is a bit dark, but it is the presentation what counts…. 🙂
Last Friday, I was invited on-board the Korean research vessel. The ship was in Lyttelton Harbour. The Koreans are very pleased with the effectiveness of their ship which operates in the Antarctic and Arctic. After the reception we had a tour through the ship. It as a great event. I am very glad that I could be a part of it.