Cold commitment : the development of New Zealand's territorial role in Antarctica, 1920-1960.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Antarctica may appear an unlikely topic for historical research. It is a land that has seen relatively little human activity and also a land of the unknown; these aspects prompted me to ask, "Why is New Zealand involved in Antarctica?" Preliminary research pointed to a long-standing connection with the Ross Dependency - which led to another question, "Why is the Ross Dependency there?" And here the published sources soon reached a full stop. Two facts only were plain. Firstly, on the 30 July, 1923, the Ross Dependency was created by a royal Order-in-Council. Secondly, in 1956 the New Zealand Government established Scott Base. Between these dates there appeared to be a gigantic vacuum. Fortunately, the initial despair at finding nothing gave way to relief, and some trepidation, at the wealth of material a little digging produced. Research proved a fascinating but sometimes difficult exercise - fascinating because so much of the material was untouched - difficult because the Ross Dependency involves issues of sovereignty and territorial limits. Governments and government departments are understandably sensitive on these matters, and important documents dealing with the Antarctic and the Ross Dependency were invariably labelled "secret" , "confidential", or "restricted". For the period up to 1945, this presented few problems as the documents were allover thirty years old and generally open to public access. However, after that period I was fortunate to be assisted by the generosity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Research Division, and also to use the voluminous correspondence of the old Marine Department files deposited in the National Archives.