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The Ross Dependency comprises an area of Antarcticamarker (and other land masses in the Southern Oceanmarker) claimed by New Zealandmarker. It is defined by a sector originating at the South Pole, passing along longitudes 160° east to 150° west, and terminating at latitude 60° south. It is nearly identical in size to Swedenmarker and constitutes the bulk of the Realm of New Zealand. The Dependency takes its name from Sir James Clark Ross, who discovered the Ross Seamarker.

The Dependency includes part of Victoria Land, and most of the Ross Ice Shelfmarker. Ross Islandmarker, Balleny Islands and the small Scott Islandmarker also form part of the Dependency, as does the ice-covered Roosevelt Islandmarker.


The scientific bases of Scott Basemarker (New Zealand) and McMurdo Stationmarker (USA) currently form the only permanently occupied human habitations in the area – unless one includes the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Stationmarker at the very edge of the territory. The Dependency has a snow runway at Williams Fieldmarker, and depending on conditions and time of year, two Ice Runwaysmarker. This guarantees accessibility by wheeled and ski equipped aircraft year round.

Italymarker conducts scientific research each summer at their Zucchelli Stationmarker in Terra Nova Baymarker, and from 1969 to 1995 New Zealand operated a summer-only base called Vanda Station in the Dry Valleymarker area of the dependency.

Greenpeace maintained its own Antarctic station in the Ross Dependency called World Park Base from 1987 to 1992, which was on Ross Island. As this base was a non-governmental entity, the official policy of the signatory nations of the Antarctic Treaty was not to give any support or assistance to it.


James Ross claimed Victoria Land and the Ross Sea for Britain when he discovered them in 1841. The British government defined its current borders in 1923 and entrusted it to the administration of New Zealandmarker:

From and after the publication of this Order in the Government Gazette of the Dominion of New Zealand that part of His Majesty's Dominions in the Antarctic Seas, which comprises all 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 shall be named the Ross Dependency.
From and after such publication as aforesaid the Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Dominion of New Zealand for the time being (hereinafter called the Governor) shall be the Governor of the Ross Dependency; and all the powers and authorities which by this Order are given and granted to the Governor for the time being of the Ross Dependency are hereby vested in him.

Under the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty System, to which New Zealand has been a signatory since its inception in 1960, no nation may make efforts to enforce sovereignty or territorial claims over the Antarctic continent proper. The actual amount of land mass claimed is not large; most of the area defined as being in the Ross Dependency is either in the Ross Sea or the Antarctic Oceanmarker. It is the second-smallest of the claims which were made prior to the implementation of the Antarctic Treaty System and the suspension of all territorial claims to Antarctica proper.

The Governor-General of New Zealand is also the Governor of Ross Dependency. Officers of the Government of the Ross Dependency are annually appointed to run the Dependency. The New Zealand Geographic Board has named many features within the Dependency.

In the late 1980s, when the British non-governmental exploratory vessel Southern Quest sank in the Ross Sea, United States Coast Guard helicopters rescued the crew, who were taken to McMurdo Station. The expedition was criticised by scientists in the Antarctic because the rescue and return of the crew disrupted their work.

In 2006, the New Zealand police reported that jurisdictional issues prevented them issuing warrants for potential American witnesses who were reluctant to testify during the Christchurch Coroner's investigation into the poisoning death of Rodney Marks at the South Polemarker base.

Postage stamps


Ross Dependency (unofficial) flag designed by James Dignan
Currently, only the New Zealand national flag serves in an official capacity in the Ross Dependency. The only other 'official' flag seen in photographs was the New Zealand Post flag to denote Scott Basemarker's post office.


  1. Publicate: August 16, 1923
  2. Order in Council Under the British Settlements Act, 1887 (50 & 51 Vict c 54), Providing for the Government of the Ross Dependency.
  3. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  4. Hotere, Andrea. "South Pole death file still open". Sunday Star Times, December 17, 2006. Retrieved on December 19, 2006.
  5. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "Death of Australian astrophysicist an Antarctic whodunnit"., December 14, 2006. Retrieved on December 19, 2006.

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