Antarctic Heritage Trust (NZ) is a not-for-profit charged with the difficult task of conserving the expedition bases left behind by the early Antarctic explorers. Established in 1987 due to a growing awareness of the deterioration of these antique huts and their artefacts – the oldest dating back to 1899 – the Trust also works to inspire the next generation of explorers.
At the beginning of 2016 the Antarctic Heritage Trust had completed restoration work on four historic bases and over 18,000 artefacts. The historic bases include Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition bases at Hut Point (1902) and Cape Evans (1911), Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1908 base at Cape Royds, and Edmund Hillary’s hut at Scott Base.
The Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Challenge
The Antarctic Heritage Trust normally carry out this restoration work at Scott Base, but a new project involving Carsten Borchgrevink’s 1899 base buildings at Cape Adare – a whopping 800km from Scott Base – required the objects to be transported to New Zealand for conservation, and back again. All the while, the artefacts needed to be stored at -15 degrees to slow deterioration and meet strict import restrictions.
This sent Lizzie Meek, Antarctic Heritage Trust’s Artefact Conservation Programme Manager, searching for a vendor and a product capable of meeting their unique requirements.
The Kiwi Box Solution
Meek speaks about finding Kiwi Box and what set them apart: “We were looking for a company that could supply temp-controlled containers. We spoke to a number of different companies and felt that we had a good rapport with Greg [Flynn]. He was willing to look at our long term requirements including options for repair and maintenance of the container.”
Greg Flynn, Kiwi Box owner/operator was able to offer the Antarctic Heritage Trust a 20ft reefer container capable of maintaining the necessary -15-degree environment, along with a bi-annual maintenance schedule and a high level of backup support should the unthinkable occur.
Meek explains why the objects needed to stay frozen, “They were under an MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] import restriction, so the idea is that they travel from Antarctica in a frozen state, and they’re stored frozen so any microorganisms they carry aren’t interacting with the New Zealand environment.” The objects were thawed and treated in an MPI permitted lab before returning to frozen storage and eventually their home in Antarctica.
A Job Well Done?
So, how did Kiwi Box perform in supplying temperature-controlled storage for this very precious cargo? “Kiwi Box were great”, Meek offered, “It was a second-hand container but it had been well-looked after and the service from Kiwi Box was top-notch – they looked after it for us.”
Meek continued, “I would recommend them as a good company to work with, especially if you’ve got an unusual one-off project.”
The partnership has led to Kiwi Box landing further work with Kiwi and American projects in the Antarctic, the word of their successful efforts with the Antarctic Heritage Trust no doubt spreading through the community.
Watch video – The Antartic Heritage Trust found a 118 year old painting in Antartica.