General issues: New Zealand dependency 1957-1982, New Zealand dependency 1994-Present
Country name on general issues: Ross Dependency
Special issues: King Edward VII Land 1908, Victoria Land 1911
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1957-1967, 1 Dollar = 100 Cent 1967-Present
Population: No permanent population – a fluctuating number scientific and support staff resides in the territory.
Political history Ross Dependency
The Ross Dependency is located on Antarctica. Discovered and claimed for Great Britain in 1841, the Ross Dependency is defined, in 1923, as ‘the islands and territories between the 160th degree of east longitude and the 150th degree of west longitude which are situated south of the 60th degree of south latitude’. The governor general of New Zealand is appointed, in 1923, as governor of the Ross Dependency. De jure the Ross Dependency is, until today, a claim made by the sovereign of Great Britain – de facto the claim is considered to be a claim of New Zealand, the Ross Dependency being administered by New Zealand. As with all claims to territories in the Antarctic, the claim to the Ross Dependency is not recognized internationally. Since 1959 – effective 1961 – New Zealand is a party to the Antarctic Treaty that pertains to the ice shelves, islands and mainland south of the 60th degree of south latitude. The treaty sets aside the Antarctic as a scientific preserve and stipulates that a presence in the Antarctic does not constitute a basis for a claim to de jure sovereignty.
The Ross Dependency – being the closest point to the South Pole one can reach by ship – has been the starting point for several expeditions to reach the South Pole – the last major challenge in the age of exploration. Thus, Arctic explorers such as Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton set up their base camps in the Ross Dependency. Amundsen would be the first to reach the geographical South Pole in 1911.
The first permanent base to be established in the Ross Dependency was the McMurdo Station, set up by the United States in 1956. The McMurdo Station currently is the largest base on Antarctica with a winter population of 250 and a summer population of 1 000 residents. New Zealand set up the Scott Base in 1957.
Postal history Ross Dependency
The first stamps issued for specific use in the Ross Dependency were the stamps issued by the New Zealand postal administration for use by expeditions of Shackleton and Scott in the early 20th century: the 1907-1909 British Antarctic Expedition, also called the Nimrod Expedition, led by Shackleton and the 1911-1913 British Antarctic ExpeditionAlso called the Terra Nova Expedition. led by Scott. Although the expeditions had several goals, the main goal was to be the first to reach the geographical South Pole.
For the 1907-1909 Shackleton expedition, stamps were issued, in 1908, overprinted ‘King Edward VII Land’. Shackleton initially intended to set up his base camp on King Edward VII Land. Arriving at King Edward VII Land, it proved impossible to set up camp there, so Shackleton decided to set up camp on Ross Island instead. Shackleton came to within 100 miles of the South Pole – closer than anyone before him.
For the 1911-1913 Scott expedition, stamps were issued, in 1911, overprinted ‘Victoria Land’. Scott also set up his base camp on Ross Island – just off the coast of Victoria Land. Scott reached the South Pole – only to discover that Amundsen had been the first to reach the Pole 34 days before. The expedition ended in tragedy as Scott and his party perished on the return journey.
New Zealand has issued stamps inscribed ‘Ross Dependency’ from 1957 – the year in which the New Zealand Scott Base was set up. The first set issued in 1957 was reissued in 1967 with denominations in the new currency. Further sets were issued in 1972 and 1982. The post office in the Ross Dependency was closed in 1987. In 1994 New Zealand resumed to issue stamps for the Ross Dependency – mainly to accommodate philatelic demand. Mail from the Ross Dependency is now processed in Christchurch, New Zealand.