Antarctic Heritage Trust executive director Nigel Watson is
pictured with one of Dr Edward Atkinson's skis. Photo by
Antarctic Heritage Trust.
Almost exactly 100 years after Dr Edward Atkinson
secretly rowed ashore at Oamaru to pass on the bombshell news
of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's death in the Antarctic, skis
used by Dr Atkinson have been returned to New Zealand.
On the night of February 10, 1913, the SS Terra Nova had
moored off Oamaru Harbour during darkness.
Dr Atkinson, the ship's doctor, who had assumed command of
the polar expedition after Captain Scott's death the previous
year, came ashore and wired to the outside world the news of
the death of Scott and the polar party.
The expedition's contract with the British-based Central News
Agency, which had provided it with much-needed funds,
required absolute secrecy, to avoid a rival news agency
getting the news out first.
The return of Dr Atkinson's skis to New Zealand's Antarctic
Heritage Trust had been a ''welcome surprise'', trust
executive director Nigel Watson said this month. The wooden
skis, etched with Dr Atkinson's initials, had been retrieved
from a pile of abandoned equipment at Scott's Cape Evans hut
in 1948 by a navy helicopter pilot, Lieutenant Lloyd Tracy,
aboard USS Edisto, part of US Operation Windmill.
His son, Dick Tracy, of Washington State, said it was with
''great joy'' that the skis were at last being returned to
Cape Evans, where his father had recovered them.
The trust plans to return the skis to Scott's Hut late this
year, after any necessary conservation work on them had been
Mr Watson was ''absolutely delighted'' the skis had been
They provided a ''most poignant link'' to the Scott
'' It seems like fate that these have been returned to
Christchurch, exactly 100 years to the day after Atkinson
himself returned here from the Antarctic with details of the
loss of the polar party.''