New Zealand has always had a close association with Antarctica from the very first. Early exploration often set out from New Zealand and continuing contact was based in Christchurch, in particular with the American Deep Freeze base.
In A Wise Adventure (VUP 2000) Templeton covered the period of 1920-1960.This included the establishment of the Antarctic Treaty system. In this companion volume, he looks more closely at the developments and negotiations since then. The Antarctic Treaty was set up to ensure access to scientific research and the peaceful management of the area and resources. While this seems a relatively simple premise, the actual process of establishing legal documentation, of getting the agreement of all interested parties and finally of enforcing these rules, is more complex.
Templeton is a former New Zealand Foreign Service Officer and has served at the United Nations and as Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Using archival materials and his own meticulous research, he has collated the information into this excellent record of the negotiations and decisions behind the treaties.
To the outsider, it appears a straightforward task to gather the interested parties and sign an agreement. In the case of Antarctica, where many diverse nations wished to have a say, it was complex. Both the fishing and more recently, the mineral resources of this area, are an important focus for countries far removed by geography. The treaties included environmental protection and management of living resources in a sustainable way while also ensuring that those countries, who claimed sovereignty and those who opposed such claims, were acknowledged.
In A Wise Adventure II we see the important role played by New Zealand since 1960. With the 60th Anniversary of the Ross Dependency at Scott Base, in December this year, it is timely to have this publication.
While this book is not light bedtime reading, it is an essential read for those interested and concerned about the future of Antarctica. It is by reading about the journey traveled, that we can be better prepared for the challenges ahead.
Reviewed by Kathy Watson
A Wise Adventure II: New Zealand and Antarctica after 1960
by Malcolm Templeton
Published by VUP