19 Aug 2016

How much does a great polar explorer weigh? The Scott Statue has been taken for a weigh-in as a first step towards its possible repair.

The landmark statue of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott used to be a commanding presence in full polar kit standing on the corner of Worcester Street and Oxford Terrace.

However, the statue, carved by Scott’s widow Kathleen Scott who was an accomplished sculptor, was thrown off its plinth in the February 2011 earthquake and broke in two.

The statue has been on temporary display in Canterbury Museum’s Quake City exhibition in Re:Start Mall since January. It has a Christchurch City Plan Group 2 heritage listing and a Category II New Zealand Heritage registration.

Christchurch City Council has put together a Scott Statue Design Team who are working through several options for a possible repair. Today the statue was removed from Quake City by crane and weighed. This information will be used by a structural engineer as part of the repair strategy.

Members of the public are being given the chance to guess what the weight of the statue was and can make their estimate here(external link)The three entries closest to the correct weight will receive a prize.

Council Capital Delivery Manager Darren Moses said the statue was very important to Christchurch residents and a lot of consideration was going into the repair process. “We are treading very carefully and we want to ensure that we make the best decisions to preserve the integrity of this significant statue.”

Captain Robert Falcon Scott was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two Antarctic expeditions, the Discovery Expedition, 1901–1904, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–1913.

Scott was born in 1868 and died on March 29, 1912 on the Ross Ice Shelf with his companions. He and his team used Christchurch and Lyttelton as a New Zealand base for both of the expeditions and the statue has become a symbol of Christchurch's important links to Antarctica and Antarctic exploration.

The statue was unveiled in February 1917, facing north towards the building that was at that time the Civic Offices. The inscription on the original plinth, which is taken from one of Scott’s last diary entries, read: “I do not regret this journey, which shows that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great fortitude as ever in the past.”

Scott’s statue was one of three shaken from their plinths in the earthquakes. The Council reinstated the statue of John Robert Godley in Cathedral Square in February last year and hopes to return William Rolleston to his post outside Canterbury Museum in the near future.