Oral Archive

Preserving the New Zealand Heritage of Antarctic Exploration through Oral Interviews: Interviews associated with the 1956-58 TAE and IGY

Since 1996, the New Zealand Antarctic Society with funding from the New Zealand Lotteries Board has been collecting oral archives from many of those involved in New Zealand's early work in Anatrctica. The goal is to talk with, record, preserve and make available audio tapes of all the members of the Commonwealth Trans Antarctic Expedition (TAE), 1956-58. Many people are aware that New Zealand undertakes research in Antarctica today, but few know of its earlier vital contribution during the TAE and IGY. The oral histories will preserve this information and provide a historical review of the period from a New Zealand perspective.

New Zealand has a unique connection to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. We have long been involved in its exploration ever since the heroic pioneering work of Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen. New Zealand too was one of only 7 other States to take up the role of foundation members of the Antarctic Treaty System and has been prominent in its development and in the struggle to protect and understand the fragile Antarctic environment. New Zealand will soon lose a generation of pioneering scientists, explorers and support personnel who led the way for advances in Antarctica.

The people who participated in the expeditions of the 1950's and 60's including those who participated in any way in the Commonwealth Transantarctic Expedition and the International Geophysical Year (IGY), established the modus operandi for field operations and field research still in use today. They possess a wealth of firsthand information and perspectives about the development and history of Antarctic investigations that has never been completely recorded; they are also in the final years of their lives, some have passed away in the last several years. All these people have a story to tell and their stories, photos, and memorabilia is of historical value to New Zealand at large and also to the New Zealand research community. We should complete the recording of this valuable information for future generations before it is lost, using the best available technology and recording media presently at our disposal.


The goal will be to talk with, record, preserve and make available audio tapes of the members of the TAE, and other significant early Antarctic scientists and support personnel that have yet to be recorded. The NZ Antarctic Society received funding from the Lottery Grants Board in 1996. That project enabled the histories of 10 surviving TAE members to be recorded. These are now archived with the Canterbury Museum. Six other members of the TAE party, including Sir Edmund Hillary, have since been recorded. The remainder of the men from the expedition have passed away.

So far 48 oral archives have been recorded. The tapes and transcripts are archived at the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Future uses for the histories

It is envisioned that the histories could be used in a number of ways. Their value is two-fold: First, as a research reference collection. Use in this way is accomplished by adding the materials to the Canterbury Museum. Secondly, it is hoped that the histories could be utilized by schools, libraries and museums. The histories could be edited and posted on the Gateway Antarctica or ALC web site to be used as a teaching tool or for the general publicıs use. It is also envisioned that during 'anniversary years' that the histories could tour New Zealand and perhaps form part of an international exhibition which celebrates and commemorates an Antarctic event.


Any enquiries regarding these Oral Histories please contact OralHistories@antarctic.org.nz

Full list of oral histories collected to date

Funding: Lottery grant, Environment & Heritage 1997
Interviewer: Julia Bradshaw (Oral Historian)
Frank Ponder Designer, Scott Base 11 Mar 1997 Blenhiem, NZ Deceased
Selwyn Bucknell Cook TAE/IGY Scott Base 12 Mar 1997 Havelock, NZ Deceased
Guyon Warren Field geologist TAE/IGY 13 Mar 1997 Nelson, NZ Deceased
Murray Ellis Engineer TAE 10 May 1997 Dunedin, NZ Deceased
George Lowe British TAE (NZer) 7 May 1997 Belper, UK Deceased
John Claydon Flight Commander TAE 8 Jul 1997 Christchurch, NZ Deceased
Bill Cranfield Pilot TAE 10 Jul 1997 Christchurch, NZ Deceased
Ron Balham Met/Biologist TAE/IGY 29 Sep1997 Wellington, NZ Deceased
Vern Gerard Geophysicist IGY/TAE 30 Sep 1997 Wellington. NZ Deceased
Wally Tarr Aircraft engineer TAE 2 Oct 1997 Coromandel, NZ Deceased

Funding: Lottery grant, Environment & Heritage 2004
Interviewer: Jacqui Foley(Oral Historian)
Bernie Gunn Field Geologist TAE/IGY 23 Sep 2004 Wanaka, NZ Deceased
Sir Ed Hillary TAE Leader NZ party 4 Oct 2004 Auckland, NZ Deceased
Lady June Hillary Wife - P. Mulgrew TAE 5 Oct 2004 Auckland, NZ
Dorothy Orr Wife - Herb Orr 3 Nob 2004 Wellington, NZ
Peter Macdonald Geophysicist IGY 1 Dec 2004 Wellington, NZ
Randel Heke Foreman Scott Base 2 Dec 2004 Wellington, NZ
Helen Cranfield Wife - Bill Cranfield 12 Feb 2005 Christchurch, NZ
Douglas McKenzie Journalist / tractor driver 21 May 2005 Christchurch, NZ
Noela Claydon Wife - John Claydon 22 May 2005 Christchurch, NZ Deceased
Shirley Ellis Wife - Murray Ellis 23 May 2005 Dunedin, NZ
Jean Bucknell Wife - Selwyn Bucknell 5 Jun 2005 Havelock, NZ
Sally Warren Wife - Guyon Warren 4 Jun 2005 Nelson, NZ
Jean Ayres Wife - Harry Ayres TAE 9 Aug 2005 Christchurch, NZ
Margaret Wright Wife - Derek Wright TAE 3 Aug 2005 ?

Funding: Financial assistance, Canterbury Museum 2006-2008
Interviewer: Jacqui Foley (Oral Historian)
Bill Ingham Cape Hallett IGY 8 Aug 2007 Otaki, NZ
Richard Brooke TAE - Northern party 15 Aug 2007 UK
Neil Sandford IGY Scott Base 23 Oct 2008 Australia

Funding: Stubenvoll/Antarctic NZ donations 2010
Interviewer: Jacqui Foley (Oral Historian)
Baden Norris Antarctic Historian
historic hut caretaker
31 Aug 2010 Christchurch, NZ
Norman Hardie Climber with Hillary, Mt Herschel;
Scott Base Leader 1983
18 Sep 2010 Christchurch, NZ
Arnold Heine Summer party 1957-58
Multiple summer seasons
16 Dec 2010 Wellington, NZ
Art Brown US NSF New Zealand liaison 7-8 Feb 2011 Christchurch, NZ
Erick Chiang NSF 24-26 Mar 2011 Virginia, USA
Bill Johns Both trips on Endeavour 11 Aug 2011 Rangiora
Malcolm Laird Early deep field with dogs;
Recently Andrill
16-17.9.11 Christchurch
Bruce Alexander Early deep field 30 Nov 2011 Christchurch

Funding: Lottery Environment and Heritage Grant 2012-2014
Interviewer: Jacqui Foley (Oral Historian)
Alec McFerran Electrician at Scott Base early 1970s 22 Feb 2013 Christchurch, NZ
Peter Webb Long term work in Dry Valleys & drilling programmes
Key Antarctic scientist.
15-17 Apr 2013
via telephone
Pataskala, Ohio,USA
Larry Harrington Fieldwork NZGS late 1950s - early 1960s 29-30 Apr 2013 Canberra, Australia
Barrie McKelvey Important work in Dry Valleys late 1950s & later. 1-2 May 2013 Armidale, Australia
Euan Young Research on penguins & skuas, mainly at Cape Bird, from 1959 onwards.
During 1969-70 season accompanied by wife Pamela Young, first woman in NZ Ant prog.
13 Aug 2013 Nelson, NZ
Peter Otway Extensive sledging with dogs, Transantarctic Mts. 16-17 Sept 2013 Tauranga, NZ
Frank Graveson Wintered 1963
In field with northern party NVL
19 Sept. 2013 Auckland, NZ
Graeme Claridge Soil scientist, extensive fieldwork from 1959;
Transantarctic Mountains & Cape Hallett
13-14 Nov 2013 Wellington, NZ
Dave Skinner Extensive fieldwork Transantarctic Mountains 1960s-1989 15 Nov 2013 Wellington
Peter Barrett Extensive fieldwork Transantarctic Mountains since 1960s.
Key research figure & Antarctic scientist.
3-5 Feb 2014 Wellington

Funding: New Zealand Antarctic Society 2014/2015
Interviewer: Jacqui Foley (Oral Historian)
Shaun Norman Extensive field support BAS, NZARP and US 25 Aug 2014 Twizel, NZ
Colin Monteath NZARP,
shipboard visits,
mountaineer, prominent Antarctic author and photographer
16 Jan 2015 Christchurch, NZ
Murray Mitchell Design Engineer with Opus for Scott Base rebuild,
Cape Roberts tractor Train
Scott Base wind farm.
7 May 2015 Christchurch, NZ

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