My Space

In­side Antarc­tic his­to­rian David Har­row­field’s “Po­lar Room”.

North & South - - North & South - ELLEN RYKERS DAVID HAR­ROW­FIELD

A trea­sure trove of Antarc­tic mem­o­ra­bilia fills “The Po­lar Room” at the back of Dr David Har­row­field’s Ōa­maru home. There’s a sledge from the 1957 New Zealand Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey Antarc­tic Ex­pe­di­tion, a stuffed, bowtie-clad Adélie pen­guin, and a hefty me­te­orite col­lected from Antarc­tica. On ev­ery shelf and in ev­ery corner there’s a piece of po­lar his­tory – and a story. An Antarc­tic his­to­rian and life mem­ber of the New Zealand Antarc­tic So­ci­ety, Har­row­field has al­ways been a col­lec­tor. Grow­ing up in Ōa­maru, he col­lected birds’ eggs and but­ter­flies, later switch­ing to fos­sil fish teeth, which sit in a jar in his liv­ing room. Con­sid­ered the first “Antarc­tic ar­chae­ol­o­gist”, he’s been to the icy con­ti­nent more than 40 times since 1974. “One of the joys I’ve had out of all my Antarc­tic work is the peo­ple,” says the 78-year-old, who was recog­nised this year with the nam­ing of Har­row­field Hill on In­ex­press­ible Is­land in his hon­our. The hill over­looks a his­toric site where six men from Scott’s 1910-1913 Terra Nova Ex­pe­di­tion spent a mis­er­able win­ter stuck in an ice cave. Har­row­field hopes to visit the hill in Jan­uary, when he trav­els to the Ross Sea as an on-board lec­turer for Her­itage Ex­pe­di­tions, a role he’s en­joyed per­form­ing since 2008. The Po­lar Room houses a life­time of ad­ven­tures, metic­u­lously recorded in Har­row­field’s diaries and field note­books. Ev­ery guest leaves a mes­sage in his vis­i­tors’ book, among them an as­tro­naut, a man ac­cused of pinch­ing all the choco­late at Scott Base, and Sir Ed him­self, who seemed to ap­pre­ci­ate the room’s Antarc­tic am­bi­ence. “I’m quite com­fort­able here,” he wrote. “I’ve got quite a pleas­ant glow on.” Sir Ed’s Antarc­tic gloves now fea­ture in the col­lec­tion. Around 12 years ago, Har­row­field do­nated the bulk of his col­lec­tion to the Can­ter­bury Mu­seum – and most of the re­main­ing pieces will even­tu­ally end up there, too. “I want other peo­ple to share it,” he says. “It’s three- di­men­sional his­tory; the ob­jects have sto­ries to tell.”

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