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It’s like visiting Scott Base after 60 years

Bob Pinker’s recent visit to the House was significant.  It was an opportunity for him to reflect on his journeys with Sir Ed to Antarctica, and to share this with his daughter, Connie Miller, a Hillary House trustee.  

Between December 1956 and January 1965, Bob did a total of nine trips south, including the Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Ed in the Endeavour, sailing from New Zealand to the Ross Sea.  Bob had four trips to McMurdo Sound, where he was involved with building Scott Base and restoring the Scott and Shackleton Huts.  He was also involved in bringing back the second Endeavour from the USA, and did another four years aboard and five trips South.

Bob says the most interesting story about the building and opening of Scott Base is that they failed to take a flag pole, and Sir Ed subsequently pulled the old flag pole back to Scott Base behind a Fergusson tractor.  A famous photo showing him in the tractor with Endeavour in the background features in our planned Auckland Heritage Festival Sir Ed’s Antarctica exhibition on 20 October.

Bob Pinker Hillary House New zealand
Bob Pinker

The building of Scott Base was a military effort, Bob says.  “At that time, we all had patches promoting our duties, and they were on my shirt at Hillary's 100th birthday celebration.”   In the photo above he is wearing patches for Hillary's expedition south for TAE (Training and Education) on the HMNZS Endeavour.  His Scott Base patches relate to IGY (International Geophysical Year) work by the NZ Department of Scientific & Industrial Research teams.

When Bob visited the House for Sir Ed’s Centenary on 20 July, he found it quite different from visiting the original home decades before it was moved from Remuera.  Gone were the 1960’s fixtures and fittings, door trims and locks he remembered – all now upgraded to meet current building requirements.    

“The home now is a great reminder of the great man, but the 1960’s look and feeling has been upgraded to a nice modern home, a copy of Ed’s homestead - great feeling, but not the same.  It’s like visiting Scott Base 60 years after we built it.”

August 2019

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