10 Jun 2024

One hundred-year old milk powder found preserved in Ernest Shackleton's hut

From Nights, 9:30 pm on 10 June 2024

Scientists have retrieved a sample of some of the oldest milk powder ever made in New Zealand.

The Defiance milk powder, made in 1907, was aboard the ship Nimrod as part of explorer Ernest Shackleton's first solo expedition to step foot on the South Pole, and remained preserved in the sub-zero temperatures for over a century.

An old box holding milk powder. The paper labels around the tin are faded and stained. "DEFIANCE BRAND DRIED MILK" is visible on the label.

Photo: Supplied/Antarctic Heritage Trust

A study examining the milk powder has found it has remarkably similar nutrients content to the milk powder produced today.

Dr Skelte Anema is a research scientist at Fonterra's Research and Development Centre in Palmerston North and joins Emile Donovan.

A historic photograph showing the Defiance milk powder factory front. The sign says "DEFIANCE - DRIED MILK - BEATS THEM ALL". The company's logo, a rooster, sits in the middle of the sign. Several men pose for the photo in front of the factory doors.

Photo: Supplied