Wananga landing Wananga landing


11 January 2024

Gateway Antarctica has a collection of resources to encourage interest in studying the Antarctic and foster an understanding of the continent's role in a global context. From school activities to expert speakers, check out our resources.


Our collection of resources is designed to encourage interest in the study of Antarctic as well as foster an understanding of the continent's role in a global context.

The Polar Journal

The Polar Journal is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary journal. It welcomes papers on polar affairs from all fields of the social sciences and the humanities. The main purpose of the journal is to develop a forum for the scholarly discussion of polar issues from a social science and humanities perspective and to help build a community of scholars working on polar issues. The journal is especially interested in publishing policy-relevant research. Each issue of the journal will either feature articles from different disciplines on polar affairs or feature a topical theme from a range of scholarly approaches.

The journal is sponsored by Gateway Antarctica and affiliated staff are on the editorial board.

United Nations Environment

United Nations Environment was established in 1972 by the UN General Assembly with a mandate “to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations”.

In 1992 the UN Conference on Environment and Development adopted Agenda 21, highlighting two needs:

  • The provision of access to reliable environment information
  • Increasing the capacity of governments to use such information as a basis for environmental decision making and management

See the United Nations Environment website for more information.

'Exploring the Last Continent - An Introduction to Antarctica'

Edited by Daniela Liggett, Bryan Storey, Yvonne Cook and Veronika Meduna.

Available from Springer

UC library link

'Exploring Antarctic Values'

Proceedings of the Workshop on Exploring Linkages between Environmental Management and Value Systems: The Case of Antarctica, held at the University of Canterbury, December 2011. Edited by Dr Daniela Liggett and Dr Alan Hemmings.

$75 each, email

'Antarctic Bioprospecting'

The book contains contributions from each of the presenters from the Workshop including Professor Don Rothwell and Professor Roberta Farrell. It also summarises the Workgroup outcomes and contains a copy of Information Paper 047 from ATCMXXVI. Edited by Dr Alan Hemmings and Michelle Rogan-Finnemore.

$65 each, email

Rack, U.; (2022) Antarctic Pioneer: the trailblazing life of Jackie Ronne (by Joanna Kafarowski). Polarforschung, 90, pp37-38 (book review in German)

Rack, U.; (2022) Antarctic Pioneer: the trailblazing life of Jackie Ronne (by Joanna Kafarowski). The Polar Journal, 12/2, pp388-391  (book review)

Wenegrat, J.O., Bonanno, E., Rack, U., Gebbie, G. (2022) A century of observed temperature changes in the Indian Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters 49

Rack, U. (2021) Wilhelm Filchner – hierarchy and insufficient leadership on the second German Antarctic Expedition. Polarforschung 91, 1-6 (1) 

Nash, D., Adamson, G.A.D., Ashcroft, L., Bauch, M., Camenisch, C., Degroot, D., Gergis, J., Jusopović, A., Labbé, T., Lin, K-H. E., Nicholson, S., Pei, Q., Prieto, M., Rack, U, Rojas, F., and White, S. (2020) Climate indices in historical climate reconstructions: a global state-of-the art. Working paper for CRIAS (Climate Reconstruction and Impacts from the Archives of Societies). Climate Past 17/3, pp1273-1314  

Rack, U.; (2020) The way to the Antarctic Treaty: Systems of rules in times of global conflict. Polar Record 55, pp320-322

Rack, U.; (2018) Exploring and Mapping the Antarctic: Histories of Discovery and Knowledge, in: Routledge Handbook of the Polar Regions, edit: Nuttall, M; Christensen, T.R.; Siegert, M., London & New York, Taylor and Frances Group, pp 34-44 (book chapter)

Rack, U.: (2018) Survival and Science: Early Antarctic explorer and sealing, in: Historical Antarctic Sealing Industry. Proceedings of an international conference in Cambridge, September 2916, edit: Headland, R.K.; Lintott, B.J.; Cambridge, Scott Polar Research Institute Occasional Publication Series, pp 121-129 (book chapter)

Ursula Rack: A researcher for the Deep South National Science Challenge, Dr Rack's research interests lie in environmental and social history. The project recovers meteorological information from logbooks of merchant and navy ships from the late 18th Century until the mid-20th Century. The data is processed to analyse historic weather phenomena to draw conclusions for future weather models in the Southern Ocean.  2018-2022, she has also been an Institute Associate at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, UK.  Since 2018, Ursula works as an Adjunct Senior Fellow on Antarctic History and guide on Expedition Cruise ships in the Antarctic.  Ursula also gives numerous public talks for schools and the wider public as part of her outreach work for Gateway Antarctica and the Schol of Earth and Environment.

Ursula is a committee member in SC-HASS (Standing Committee of Humanities and Social Sciences) within SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) since 2022. Dr Rack's past work has included social conditions - food, medical conditions, income, hierarchy, leadership, insurance and income - on polar expeditions.

An experienced teacher, Dr Rack can tailor a presentation to fit the needs of the audience but past talks have included:

  • 'Life, travel and work in the Antarctic', Rotary Club of Cashmere
  • 'Working and living in extreme environments', Shirley Ladies Club
  • 'Adaptation to extreme environments', Hillmorton High NCEA level two science class
  • 'Extreme environments', St Andrew's College Ladies Club
  • 'Research in the Antarctic', Riccarton Men's Probus Club
  • 'Tutor in the Antarctic', Merrin Ladies Club
  • 'Environmental project', Te Waka Unua School
  • 'Antarctic quilts and arts', Shirley Ladies Club
  • 'Antarctica as a classroom', Rotary Women's Club
  • 'Leadership and responsibility', Somerfield School
Speaker Series


Title: Making Climate Change Visible: a short history of Antarctic climate research

Speaker: Dr. Ursula Rack

Institute: Jim Gardener Memorial Lecture 2023, Canterbury Historical Foundation

Time and place: 23 July 2023, 2 pm, Central Lecture Theatre CS

Abstract: Climate change is a highly discussed topic as a reaction to the latest weather events in Aotearoa/New Zealand. However, what happens here is closely connected to the Antarctic, which reacts sensitively to changes. Some of these variations have been already witnessed over the last one and a half centuries.

In the nineteenth century, Louis Agassiz began with the study of Ice Ages in the Swiss Alps. Some scientists related the theory further to the Artic and consequently to the Antarctic at the beginning of the 20th century. Earth science started in the Antarctic nearly hundred thirty years ago. It seems a short time, but even then, early explorers recognised changes. One such example is the Larsen Ice Shelf, which has disintegrated over the last decades.

This paper will show the development from the early efforts of climate science on the southernmost continent and in return its influence of the rest of the world based on historical examples and outstanding scientists.

Short biography: Dr Ursula Rack is a Polar historian and an Adjunct Fellow at Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London and was Institute Associate at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, from 2018 – 2022. Ursula teaches Antarctic history and has spent five seasons in the Antarctic.


Title: 2022 – Commemorating Antarctic Key Dates: From Shackleton to the smallest ever Antarctic Expedition and beyond

Speaker: Dr. Ursula Rack

Institute: Canterbury Historical Association

Time and place: 14 June 2022, 6pm, Rehua Building, Lectorial 002

Abstract: 2022 marks the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s death on South Georgia. Yet, this year remembers many key dates and events in Antarctic history. Many anniversaries commemorate on the researchers, explorers, and events that took place in different parts of the Antarctic. 140 years ago, started the first organised international collaboration in Polar research. The smallest ever Antarctic expedition took place 100 years ago at Waterboat Point where two young men overwintered to study the breading cycle of Gentoo penguins. What all the anniversaries of the death of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Wilhelm Filchner, and Dumont d’Urville as well as birth dates such the one of Douglas Mawson have in common is that all these men and expedition events contributed to our understanding of the Antarctic.

This paper will highlight some of the events and will bring them together to the bigger picture on Antarctic history.


Dr. Ursula Rack is a polar historian and an Adjunct Fellow at Gateway Antarctica, Te Kura Aronukurangi – School of Earth and Environment. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London, an Institute Associate at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, UK, and in 2018, was appointed a New Zealand Winston Churchill Memorial Fellow, and have spent four seasons in the Antarctic. Ursula publishes extensively in English and German.


Title: French exploration in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Antarctica

Speaker: Dr. Ursula Rack

Institute: Café Scientific, presented by the French Embassy and UC

Time and place: 9 June 2021, 5:30 – 7:30 PM, , hosted at the UC Staff Club

Abstract: From the 18th century onwards, French explorers reached the shores of Aotearoa/New Zealand and went on to the White Continent. Especially Jules-Sébastien-César Dumont d’Urville was a great explorer who was especially fascinated by the people of Aotearoa/New Zealand. However, he had also an agenda for the Antarctic in order to find the South Magnetic Pole.

This presentation will give an overview on the French expeditions led by Dumont d’Urville to Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Antarctic continent highlighting the long-lasting relationship between Antarctica, New Zealand, and France.

Title: Fritz Loewe – von Groenland über Melbourne in die Antarktis (from Greenland via Melbourne to the Antarctic)

Speaker: Dr. Ursula Rack

Institute: Frankfurter Polarclub (via ZOOM)

Time and place: 13 April 2021, 5 am via Zoom

Abstract in German: Fritz Loewe war Meteorologe und Glaziologe in Grönland 1929 – 30 und 1930 – 31 unter der Leitung von Alfred Wegener. Er musste 1933 aus Deutschland fliehen aufgrund seiner jüdischen Wurzeln. Die erste Station seiner Rettung war Cambridge, GB, wo er am Scott Polar Research Institut arbeitete. Loewe wurde nach Melbourne ,Australien, eingeladen und blieb dort bis 1974. In den 1950iger Jahren beteiligte er sich an einer Antarktischen Expedition. Seine Arbeit ist heute noch in Fachkreisen hoch anerkannt.

Der Vortrag wird Loewes Arbeit, Leben und Verdienste für die Wissenschaft beleuchten. Seine Verbindungen zu wissenschaftlichen Kreisen rettete ihn und seine Familie vor Verfolgung und eventueller Ermordung. Er konnte sich, unter anfangs schwierigen Bedingungen, in Australien etablieren, auch wenn die Verbindungen in Deutschland, vor allem nach dem Krieg, niemals wirklich abbrachen.

Engllish: it is the biography of a glaciologist who had to flee his German homeland because of his Jewish roots. He could flee via Cambridge, UK to Melbourne. Loewe is still a highly recognised meteorologist and glaciologist.

Biographie in German:

Dr. Ursula Rack ist Polarhistorikerin. Sie lebt seit 2006 in Christchurch, Neuseeland und arbeitet als Adjunct Fellow am Institut Gateway Antarctica der University of Canterbury. Ihre Doktorarbeit hat sie als polarhistorische Studie in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Alfred Wegener Institut für Polar und Meersesforschung, der Universität Hamburg, sowie der Universität in Wien verfasst. Im Jahr 2012 erhielt sie, als erste Historikerin, ein COMNAP (Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes) Fellowship für das Projekt: Historische Wetterdaten aus der Antarktis, rekonstruiert anhand von Logbüchern und Tagebüchern des Heroischen Zeitalters (1897 – 1917). Für eine vergleichende Studie über die unterschiedliche Herangehensweise verschiedener Länder an ihre Antarktisgeschichte wurde sie 2018 mit dem Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship ausgezeichnet. Sie konnte diese Projekt 2019 mit einem Harriette Jenkins Award weiterführen.

Seit 2018 arbeitet Ursula Rack als Lektorin auf Touristenschiffen entlang der Westküste der Antarktischen Halbinsel.


Title: History from the freezer: early scientific observations of Antarctic ice.

Speaker: Dr. Ursula Rack

Institute: SCAR Open Science Conference online

Time and place:  30 July 2020 via prerecording due to Covid 19

Abstract: Curating a recent Antarctic photo exhibition showing the diversity of work in the Antarctic it became clear that a majority of viewers were highly responsive to landscape pictures showing ice in its large variety. Photos shown were ‘the’ favourite personal pictures of a diverse group of University researchers who had travelled to the Antarctic. The viewers’ choice of more than 200 submitted ballot papers revealed that pictures of icebergs fascinated most.

At the same time, many questions were asked about the history of early Antarctic exploration, the motivation of scientists, how findings were made, and the legacy of these findings. Paintings, photos and descriptions of ice are available from early explorers who studied the ice. Many of them were geologists such as Hartley Ferrar (Scott expedition 1901–1903). His accounts on ice observations show a great passion and diversity in observation techniques. Otto Nordenskjöld, leader of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition (1901–1903) shaped the name ‘ice shelf’ based on his observations. David Paige, artist at Byrd’s expedition 1933–1935, caught the icy world in stunning paintings.

This paper shows the exploration of Antarctic ice from a historical angle and focuses on early explorers’ findings and their legacy that is still motivation and the basis of current research of a changing polar world. It will appear that ice has still its fascination until today and that the mystery of the icy world has been attracting both scientists and the public alike.


Title: National or International Perspectives on Antarctic History

Speaker:  Dr. Ursula Rack

Institute: Canterbury Historical Association

TIme and place: Tue, 14 May 2019 18:00:00 NZST in South Arts Lecture Theatre A8 Preceded by drinks and snacks from 5.30 pm

Abstract:  During several research visits supported by a New Zealand Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship in 2018 Ursula Rack explored national differences in dealing with - and exploiting - Antarctic heritage and history.  This paper will give an overview of her project and discusses the oucomes related to national and international perspectives on Antarctic history and present Antarctic programmes.


I am a Polar Historian with an interest for social and environmental history. The international aspect of that research focuses also on political and economic factors which are heavily influencing expeditions. I also research and teach history of science with a focus on the Antarctic.

Another aspect in my research is the indigenous as well as the female component in Antarctic history. I extended my studies to include New Zealand scientists from the International Geophysical Year 1957–1958 onward and their involvement in international collaboration in Antarctic science especially with the United States of America. I am collaborating with remote sensing specialists on co-registering digitized maps to high-resolution satellite maps and historic weather patterns. My research requires intensive archival studies based on transcribing, translating, digitising, and interpreting original handwritten documents such as personal accounts, logbooks, correspondence, reports.

I am a recipient of the New Zealand Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship 2018 for the project: Frozen history: How different countries research, collect and communicate their Antarctic history.“ To continue this project with a New Zealand focus on that topic, I received a Harriette Jenkins Award from the Graduate Women New Zealand in 2019.

In 2012 I have been awarded a COMNAP Research Fellowship (Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs) for the project: “Reconstructing historic Antarctic climate data from logbooks and diaries of the Heroic era”. The focus of this project was on the influence that extreme weather events could have on the early explorers, their social interactions and wellbeing, and consequently on the course of an expedition. Subsequently, I have been contracted by NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) for the Deep South National Science Project E6476 in 2016/17 to examine and interpreting logbooks for historic weather data over the last 200 years. Since 2018, I work as lecturer for Antarctic history and guide on Expedition Cruise ships along the Antarctic Peninsula and the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

An Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research Cluster initiative:

UC Antarctic Conference 2020

Southern Exposure:
Antarctic Research at the University of Canterbury 


The conference programme and book of abstracts are available.

Antarctic Conference Programme

Book of Abstracts


The University of Canterbury’s Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research Cluster invited you to participate in our Antarctic conference, which aimed at bringing together researchers from across the university’s colleges and departments, external Antarctic researchers, and Antarctic stakeholders in an effort to connect scholars and stakeholders, invigorate the Antarctic research landscape at UC and in Canterbury and facilitate the development of high-quality, inter- and transdisciplinary research project on cutting-edge Antarctic research topics.

The conference aimed to enhance and promote Antarctic research within the University of Canterbury, to create greater transparency around ongoing Antarctic research projects and encourage inter-departmental and intercollegiate coordination and collaboration on Antarctic research and inspire researchers interested in working on Antarctic issues. While researchers and postgraduate students were given an opportunity to present their research and obtain feedback from their colleagues, established researchers and Antarctic stakeholders set time aside for focussed World-Café-style discussion to develop an Antarctic research strategy for UC.

Get involved in Antarctic research opportunities at UC!

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