This paper is concerned with Aotearoa/New Zealand’s changing relationship to Antarctica, and the Ross Dependency in particular. Through a consideration of post-colonial theory in the Ross Dependency, it is argued that a productive dialogue about the cultural politics of mainland Aotearoa/New Zealand can be opened up. After some reflections on the post-1945 political and cultural trajectory of the country, attention is given to the place of the Maori and their involvement in the polar continent and Southern Ocean. The adoption of Maori place-names on New Zealand maps of the Ross Dependency is considered further because it helps to illuminate the country’s awkward and incomplete post-colonial transformation. Arguably, such an adoption of Maori place-names in Antarctica contributes to a vision of bicultural harmony. However, this is not a view shared by all observers. Developments affecting the crown agency Antarctica New Zealand, alongside recent heritage projects, are scrutinised further in order to consider how Maori–Pakeha relations influence and define contemporary understandings of New Zealand’s presence in Antarctica.
Finally, the paper briefly contemplates how a trans-Tasman dialogue with Australian scholars might enable further analysis into how geographically proximate settler colonies engage with Antarctica and their associated territorial
claims to the continent and surrounding ocean.