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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Scott Base

Scott Base, the New Zealand headquarters in Antarctica, is established on western Ross Island, some 40 miles from the mainland. The stretch of water (in summer) between them is known as McMurdo Sound. The base has seven flat-roofed, aluminum-sheathed huts designed as refrigeration chambers which keep cold out and warmth in. Their insulated doors are of standard freezing-chamber design and they open on to a covered way of arched corrugated iron which connects the main huts. One hut is a workshop-ablutions-survey office; another is the administration-radio station-cookhouse-mess hall-recreation-cinema unit. Another hut is devoted entirely to scientific installations; still another, the generator hut-garage, has a diesel engine delivering lighting and power both for domestic and for scientific use 24 hours a day, year in year out. Other buildings surrounding the Base are a small hangar, another garage, an auroral tower, and a husky dog maternity home. This list gives an inkling of how the base functions as a tiny self-contained town (“resupplied” each summer), with its industrial and administrative districts vying for space with its suburbs, the sleeping huts. Often the transitory personnel, those there for the field season, must sleep beside a standby motor or clacking electronic device. In winter the base contains but a dozen or so “wintering over” personnel who work in comfort and “spacious” conditions, but in the summer (the field and maintenance season) the base becomes a turmoil of incoming personnel consisting of scientific and survey parties preparing for the field. In some years, if the budget is favourable, the base is enlarged.

The New Zealand leader at Scott Base is invested with the powers of a stipendiary magistrate, coroner, and postmaster. Scott Base is the Ross Dependency's official commercial radio link with the outside world by radio and radio telephone, and in summer by letter and parcel post. All mail is franked here and stamped with Ross Dependency stamps. The New Zealand radio link, and all ship and air traffic, together with field-party radio schedules, are maintained by one man who, like the cook, is tied to his job winter and summer.