Antarctica New Zealand has launched a digital platform which makes thousands of images and videos of New Zealand’s Antarctic history available to the public. Originally designed as a photo archive, this affectionately named tool, ADAM, is a custom-designed web-platform showcasing more than 40,000 images dating back to 1957.

Antarctica New Zealand has launched a digital platform which makes thousands of images and videos of New Zealand’s Antarctic history available to the public. The 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. It hosts images from Sir Edmund Hillary’s record-breaking push to the South Pole on his Massey Fergusson tractor, and the Trans-Antarctic Expedition Hut – the very first building at Scott Base. The collection includes images of 3000 penguins, more than 1000 seals, 200 whales and a cat on the ice on a variety of media; photograph slides, negatives, film, and glass plates.

Sir Edmund Hillary on a tractor bound for Cape Crozier during the Transantarctic Expedition. (Photo probably by Geoffrey Lee Martin ©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection, 30572, 1956 – 1958)
Sir Edmund Hillary on a tractor bound for Cape Crozier during the Transantarctic Expedition. (Photo probably by Geoffrey Lee Martin ©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection, 30572, 1956 – 1958)

There are images from 13 international Antarctic programmes, 21 different branches of science, with over 1100 individual photographers credited for their work. Antarctica New Zealand has been able to geo-tag more than 25,000 locations attributed to the sites of stunning imagery loaded into the platform.

ADAM website: http://antarctica.recollect.co.nz/

Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds (Photo ©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection, 40421, 1973)
Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds (Photo ©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection, 40421, 1973)

“The platform has evolved into a sophisticated outreach tool for the Antarctic community,” says Antarctica New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Beggs. “It not only serves as a record of New Zealand’s proud heritage in Antarctica, it provides a mechanism to share the Antarctic content in living rooms of families across the world each keen to learn more about this precious environment.”

Iggy the Scott Base cat. As a tiny kitten it had flown on a Globemaster in the pocket of an American sailor, but had not been allowed onto the US Navy base. Its saviour was cook Morrie Speary, who took it to Scott Base, where it spent most of the time in the galley. At the end of the next summer Iggy returned to Christchurch and was fitted up with a harness and a lead. However, on seeing grass, trees and birds she ran off and was never seen again. (An excerpt from ‘Call of the Ice – Fifty Years of New Zealand in Antarctica’ by David Harrowfield) (Photo by Brian Sandford ©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection, 34399, 1958-1959)
Iggy the Scott Base cat. As a tiny kitten it had flown on a Globemaster in the pocket of an American sailor, but had not been allowed onto the US Navy base. Its saviour was cook Morrie Speary, who took it to Scott Base, where it spent most of the time in the galley. At the end of the next summer Iggy returned to Christchurch and was fitted up with a harness and a lead. However, on seeing grass, trees and birds she ran off and was never seen again. (An excerpt from ‘Call of the Ice – Fifty Years of New Zealand in Antarctica’ by David Harrowfield) (Photo by Brian Sandford ©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection, 34399, 1958-1959)

The Antarctic community is very passionate, and ADAM Project Manager, Jenny Ryan, is an Antarctican whose love for Antarctica and information-sharing has driven the success of this project. 

“Antarctica New Zealand is grateful to the many cataloguers who worked to ensure the metadata attached to each image is as accurate as we can make it. The quality of information represented within this tool is a testament to the research and input of the wider Antarctic community,” says Ms Ryan. “This project has taken 60-years of images which were stored in a dated filing cabinet in a cold-store facility in Christchurch, and produced a future proof-platform which New Zealanders can be proud of.

Curious Emperor penguins investigate the HMNZS Endeavour, which took Scott Base building materials, planes, dogs and most of the New Zealand expedition members to Antarctica in December 1956 (Photo by John Claydon ©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection, 28418, 1956)
Curious Emperor penguins investigate the HMNZS Endeavour, which took Scott Base building materials, planes, dogs and most of the New Zealand expedition members to Antarctica in December 1956 (Photo by John Claydon ©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection, 28418, 1956)

“ADAM currently contains more than 400,000 nodes of data, including personal profiles, event information and geographic locations, along with journal transcripts and video records. But we have more work to do,” says Antarctica New Zealand General Manager Marketing and Communications Jeanine Begg. “We need the support of fellow Antarcticans and the wider community to further develop this asset. If more information is known about a photo or video, the crowd-sourcing capability of the site means we can better enhance our strong historic records.”

Antarctica New Zealand is confident this platform hosts the largest collection of Antarctic imagery in the world. As such, an application has been made to the Guinness World Records, with confirmation of claim acceptance expected in the near future

Source: Antarctica New Zealand