The Atlantic – A quote in a magazine….

I got contacted by Fortunato Salazar (his working name) to find out more on the Erebus Chalice. There are lots of different versions out there what this chalice means. Salazar contacted many historians who were involved e.g. the Canterbury Museum, David Harrowfield, and also me. After an interview, I gave this comment on the special concept of the chalice: “As the tradition persists, all the years of regarding the chalice as genuine have imparted a symbolic value independent of the chalice’s real origins. Continuity, in itself, seems to provide a kind of comfort. “When the chalice is handed over in the [blessing] service, it gives everyone a feeling of something special, of being a part of a very special group,” says Ursula Rack, a polar historian at the University of Canterbury who has studied the chalice’s symbolic value. “Going to the Antarctic isn’t a granted right, and many people experience real hardship—so the chalice is a sort of security because it implies that others made it through successfully before, and a newcomer will as well.” this quote is from the magazine The Atlantic

Use the link and read the article – maybe the chalice remains a mystery – the deeper one digs the more questions appear – interesting stuff.



Erebus Chalice – Chapel of the Snows, McMurdo, January 2016 (Ursula Rack)



Guided tour and public talk

On Monday, 5 February, I was busy. I gave a guided tour for one person through Christchurch to show the connection between the city and the Antarctic. We were lucky to have access to the Canterbury Club where I could show the signed menus from Shackleton’s farewell dinner in 1907. With the historic interior of this Club, it was easy to create a feeling of the time and the man who went South. The Scott statue, the museum and the stain glassed window in the Great Hall were also on the programm. The tour was planned for two hours but I went back to his accommodation and told on the way more stories and facts what was highly appreciated as he pointed out in his email:  “Thank you so very much for everything you did for me this morning, it was a sheer delight to meet you and your enthusiasm will stay with me forever. I consider your Heritage Tour an essential precursor to anyone and everyone going to visit the Antarctic, it will add so much more meaning to what I am about to experience.”

An hour later, I was on my way to Parklands to the Parklands’ Ladies Club. I have been invited already in December to deliver that talk on “how to live in the Antarctic” – it was successful again and comments from some women afterward are summed up in following statement: “your talk was the most intersting since some long time”.


Shackleotn portrait




Finally – a HISTORIAN in the Antarctic (PCAS  2014 – 15)

Wellington 14 February – public presentation

I have been invited to give a presentation in Wellington on 14 February 2018, on the race to the South Pole in 1912 (see link) NZAntSocWB-2018-02-14 Race to the South Pole-Rack

“Lessons from the Antarctic” How Amundsen won the race to the South Pole is the theme of the series of talks. Panels to Roald Amundsen’s biography are exhibited in Wellington all February and are accompanied by public talks. The panels were displayed also here in Christchurch during the Antarctic Season Opening in October 2017.

The “Amundsen panels” are in Wellington exhibited for the whole February. The NZAS Wellington Branch is the organiser of the talks and the Norwegian Embassy is supporting these events.

I am looking forward to this event!


14 February



Radio Interview

Because I got the NZ Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship I have been invited for an interview yesterday at the radio station: “Plain FM, Christchurch Now.”

radio interview

We are encouraged by the Trust to engage with media. It is a very new experience and I hope I got the message out for the Fellowship, my project and the Antarctic.



HASSEG video released

The HASSEG conference was held in Hobart in July 2017.  Now a video about the conference has been released.  I am in it with a part of my presentation Geographical Societies, mapping, and interests in the Antarctic (time in the video 13:29 – 14:15). This video gives a great overview of the content and the quality of the presentations.

Click on this link and the video should appear. Enjoy!


Antarctic, 2014 – an inspiration for my historical research


Exhibition in the EPS library

An exhibition in the EPS (Engineering Library University of Canterbury) is open since last week until the end of October. It promotes the Antarctic Collection which is on permanent loan at UC since 1999. Last weekend was the Season Opening and IceFest.

The display shows the history of the last 60 years in the Antarctic and New Zealand’s involvement in Antarctic science. The artwork is provided by Adele Jackson, an artist and Ph.D. candidate at Gateway Antarctica.  A handout gives more information to the display.

Christchurch is one of the 5 Gateway Cities

Gateway Antarctica is the research unit at the UC

Antarctic Collection holds valuable information (books, reports, etc.) on Antarctic expeditions and research events.

Antarctic History is important to understand the current situation in the Antarctic (from the first scientific/research events to the Antarctic Treaty and the current situation with new team players (e.g.: China, Korea, India, Malaysia) who are establishing stations in the Antarctic.

Come along and see the exhibition:

Oct 09
Oct 10
Oct 11
Oct 12
Oct 13
Oct 14
Oct 15
EPS 8am – 9pm 8am – 9pm 8am – 9pm 8am – 9pm 8am – 6pm 10am – 5pm 10am – 5pm
 Opening hours of the EPS library.

Display in the EPS library.


28 August – talk at the Pegasus Ladies Club in New Brighton.

Last week I gave a talk on my time in the Antarctic at the Pegasus Ladies Club in New Brighton. There were approx. 70 ladies present. It was a very nice group and they were really interested in the topic. Also, this group asked me to come again to their meeting with another talk. This is always a nice feedback.


 Me, digging out the weather station in January 2016