Antarctic researcher

Pioneering researcher and one of the first women to set foot on the South Pole

There was a time, and not all that long ago, where women weren't allowed at New Zealand's polar outpost.

That wasn't due to any domestic policy, but a ban on women travelling to Antarctica imposed by the US Defence Force.

When selected to go to the ice in June 1969, Pamela Young was described as "First Lady for Scott Base".
Young wasn't the first Kiwi woman to set foot on the frozen continent - Canterbury Museum marine zoologist Marie Darby got to Antarctica as a staffer on a tourist ship in 1969 - but she was the first to live and work there.


Young's role was a field assistant to her husband Euan, a biologist, during an expedition to Cape Bird at the north end of Ross Island.

The couple spent 10 weeks living and working at the cape with a small team, before making a final penguin count in January 1970 and heading back to Scott Base.

Young was among the first women to set foot at the South Pole - six women flew to the pole together and linked arms as they walked down the cargo ramp, stepping on to the snow in unison.

She was delighted to be there but bemused by the ceremony of it all.

"I simply couldn't think of the spot as that solemn goal to which Scott and Amundsen had toiled," Young once recalled.

"Indeed, it seemed just the sort of Pole that Pooh and Piglet might have set out to find and it fitted perfectly into the circus-like atmosphere of our own visit."

She recounted her Antarctic experiences in a book, Penguin Summer, that was published in 1971 when the Youngs and their two children were living in Western Samoa.

It wasn't all that marked her pioneering role in Antarctica - a 5km-long range of peaks are named after her, as was Scott Base's recently-opened Pamela Young Science Laboratory.