The New Zealand Antarctic Society was formed in Wellington on 2 November 1933 following a lecture given on an Antarctic expedition. As there was considerable interest in polar exploration, a meeting was convened to establish the society when certain objectives, which have remained constant over the years, were outlined. They included such aims as bringing together persons interested in the study of the Antarctic, stimulating public interest in the south-polar region, and offering assistance to the Government or other authorities in matters relating to Antarctic exploration and research. Another branch was established at Dunedin in 1936, but both went into recess during the Second World War. Wellington branch was revived in 1949 and Dunedin in 1950. Later, another branch was established at Christchurch, and there was also a short-lived branch at Auckland in the mid-1950s.
In September 1953 the society recommended to the Prime Minister that New Zealand should explore the Ross Dependency and take part in the IGY programme. From then onwards the society played an important part in urging New Zealand's participation in polar affairs, and success was achieved in 1955 with the announcement of this country's participation in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Since then the society has continued to expand.
The Antarctic News Bulletin, later shortened to Antarctic, gives recent information on Antarctic affairs, and this journal has a wide overseas circulation. In 1952 the society published a book entitled The Antarctic Today, written by various experts in Antarctic research. A similar volume Antarctica (1964) brings the scientific story up to date.
by Arthur Stanley Helm, M.B.E., M.A., Investigating Officer, Tourist and Publicity Department, Wellington.