Sixty years ago, on 1 December 1959, the Antarctic Treaty was signed by 12 countries including New Zealand with the intention of preserving the uninhabited continent for scientific purpose.

To mark the occasion we’ve dipped into our archives to bring you a 2008 concert from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Exploring Antarctica showcases three works inspired by the ice continent.

Emperor penguins at Prydz Bay, eastern Antarctica.

Emperor penguins at Prydz Bay, eastern Antarctica. Photo: AFP / Biosphoto / Minden Pictures / Tui De Roy

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Photo: Michael Joseph

The Treaty brought together countries such as the United States and Russia to support a common goal of maintaining peace as well as the freedom of scientific research in the Antarctic region.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force plane landed at the Pegasus Airfield in Antarctica

Photo: NZDF

It sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activity on the continent. Sixty years later there are now 54 signatories to the treaty.

The Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica

The Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica Photo: NASA

During the interval of this concert we hear from three New Zealand composers who have visited Antarctica, about their experiences on the ice. The concert in 2008 was also enjoyed by special relay to the staff at Scott Base.

Recorded in Wellington Town Hall by RNZ Concert on 18 April 2008

Producer: David McCaw

Engineer: Graham Kennedy