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40,000 historical images of NZ’s Antarctic history preserved

40,000 historical images of New Zealand’s Antarctic history preserved

Today Antarctica New Zealand delivered its physical pictorial collection, totaling more than 40,000 images, to Archives New Zealand. Spanning more than sixty years, this extensive pictorial collection will be housed at Archives New Zealand’s Wellington repository to ensure the public record of New Zealand’s Antarctic history is preserved.

“This pictorial collection is possibly the largest Antarctic-focused collection in the world,” says Jenny Ryan, Antarctica New Zealand Information Services and Applications Advisor, “I am very proud to have played a key role in seeing this project through since its beginning in 2013.”

The Antarctica New Zealand pictorial collection began in 1957 with the intention of creating a photographic record of New Zealand's involvement in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition and International Geophysical Year activities.

Ms Ryan, who project managed the digitisation and cataloging of this significant collection, says “This is a significant international achievement as no other Antarctic nation has assembled a comprehensive pictorial record of their activities in such a systematic way.”

The collection includes a variety of media; photograph slides, negatives, film, and glass plates.. More than half of the collection comprises photographs taken by professional photographers employed by the New Zealand Antarctic Programme. Other images include content taken by staff and donations by people who wished to make the material available for public record and safe keeping.

“Preserving the collection is important, but making it easily accessible for all New Zealanders to enjoy is significant,” says Ms Ryan. “That’s why bringing the images into the modern world, through a user-friendly, online graphical data-base made absolute sense.”

As a result, the Antarctica New Zealand Digital Asset Manager project (fondly referred to as ADAM) was undertaken in 2014. ADAM’s objective was to digitise and comprehensively catalogue as much of Antarctica New Zealand’s pictorial collection before it was permanently archived with Archives New Zealand (part of the Department of Internal Affairs).

“By digitising and cataloguing such a significant number of images, both current and future generations of New Zealanders can share the journey of the early polar explorers and their incredible stories and experiences on one of the harshest environments on the planet,” says Jeanine Begg, Antarctica New Zealand’s General Manager Marketing and Communications.

“A tool that makes learning about New Zealand’s proud history in Antarctica has huge benefits for all our communities.”

“Kiwi kids can now take a step back in time during their studies and see images of Scott Base, built in 1957 and iconic Mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary who led the New Zealand contribution to the Trans-Antarctic Expedition in Antarctica.”

The ADAM project will be formally launched on, Thursday 18 June in Christchurch.

All items in the collection have been scanned at a high resolution and the Archives New Zealand Archway reference number will be available for anyone wishing to access the original item.

Archives New Zealand is accepting the transfer of the photographic collection as part of its scheduled transfer process as part of a disposal authority issued in 2003. Antony Moss, Archives New Zealand Director Client Capability, says “We are delighted to accept Antarctica New Zealand’s photographic collection, which will ensure its long term preservation. It is a credit to Jenny Ryan and her team to have catalogued approximately 40,000 images in the last six or so months.”

The list for the photographic collection will be available in Archway once the transfer process has been completed, providing physical access at Archives New Zealand. Access to the collection will be restricted for preservation reasons, but the digital images will be available to the public when the ADAM project is launched in June.


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