People, Nature and the Southern Ocean



Publication Details

Maddison, B. (2018). People, Nature and the Southern Ocean. In F. Steel (Ed.), New Zealand and the Sea: Historical Perspectives (pp. 68-88). Wellington, New Zealand: Bridget Williams Books. https://www.bwb.co.nz/books/new-zealand-and-sea

Link to publisher version (URL)

Bridget Williams Books


In December 1902 the Dunedin Drainage and Sewerage Board unveiled its new plans for disposing of the city's liquid waste. The Board argued, 'Where so exceptionally fine an ocean outfall as ours is attainable there can be no question of how to dispose of the sewerage ... into the Southern Ocean.'1 Today the sea outside Dunedin Heads is more usually considered both a valuable natural asset, and a part of the South Pacific Ocean. In some ways, it is unsurprising that to early twentieth-century Dunedinites this body of water was both 'the Southern Ocean', and an appropriate depository for the city's waste. The late nineteenth century was a period of unstable maritime nomenclature, as well as entrenched belief in the illimitable capacities of the ocean. As we shall see, the latter was beginning to be challenged, but the names of the bodies of water surrounding New Zealand were still anything but settled.

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