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Volume 1, 1868
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of the
Wellington Philosophical

of the
Wellington Philosophical Society.

Preliminary Meeting, (held in the Legislative Council Chamber,) November 13, 1867.
His Excellency the Governor, Sir George Grey, K.C.B., President of the Society, in the chair.

Mr. R. Pharazyn stated that the object of the meeting, was to adopt the resolutions come to by the trustees of the old Society, and to elect officers; and also that seventy-four persons had paid subscriptions and become original members of the Society.

The following resolutions were adopted:

I. That an effort should be made to reconstitute the New Zealand Society on the basis of the old New Zealand Society.

II. That the Society so reconstituted should be incorporated under the “New Zealand Institute Act, 1867.”

III. That the rules of the New Zealand Society be adopted, subject to amendment.

IV. That all members of the New Zealand Society, all members of the General Assembly, and all other persons who, on or before the 15th of October, shall have signified their desire to become members, shall be entitled, on payment of the annual subscription of one guinea, on or before the 31st of October, to be placed on the list of original members of the reconstituted Society.

V. That His Excellency Sir George Grey be requested to act as President of the New Zealand Society.

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VI. That His Honor the Superintendent of Wellington, and His Lordship the Bishop of Wellington, be Vice Presidents of the Society.

VII. That the following gentlemen be the Council of the Society:

Mr. R. Hart, Mr. W. T. L. Travers,
Mr. A. Sheath, Mr. J. C. Crawford,
Mr. R. Pharazyn.

VIII. That Mr. R. Pharazyn be appointed Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the New Zealand Society.

IX. That the Council be authorized to revise and prepare rules to be adopted at a General Meeting of the Society, to be held on Wednesday, the 4th of December, 1867.

Special Meeting, November 30, 1867.
The Bishop of Wellington in the chair.

Dr. Featherston, Vice President, stated that the meeting was called for the purpose of electing a Governor of the New Zealand Institute, under the Act.

Oil the motion of Dr. Featherston it was resolved, “That Mr. J. C. Crawford be elected a member of the Board of Governors, under the ‘New Zealand Institute Act, 1867.”’

On the motion of Mr. Crawford it was resolved, “That with a view to settle any doubts on the subject, it is now declared that the President and Vice Presidents are ex officio members of the Council of the Society.”

On the motion of Mr. C. J. Pharazyn it was resolved, “That all persons paying the annual subscription before the 31st of December, 1867, be included in the list of original members of the reconstituted New Zealand Society.”

On the motion of Mr. R. Pharazyn it was resolved, “That the resolution of meeting on the 4th of December be rescinded.”

The Rules as amended by the Council were then read seriatim and passed with amendments.

First Annual Meeting. January 31, 1868.
The Bishop of Wellington in the chair.

Minutes of last meeting were read and confirmed.

The Secretary read his Report, stating that ninety-five persons having paid their subscriptions before the end of last year, appear on the list as

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original members, and that several other persons had expressed their intention of joining the Society.

The following printed papers, presented by Dr. Hector, were laid upon the table:

“Rules of the New Zealand Society, reconstituted November 1, 1867.”
“Colonial Museum Report, 1866–67.”
“Geological Report on the Lower Waikato District,” June 3, 1867, by Captain Hutton.
“Geological Report on the Thames Gold Fields,” by Captain Hutton, September 23, 1867.
“First General Report on the Coal Deposits of New Zealand,” by Dr. Hector, October, 1866.
“Abstract Report on the progress of the Geological Survey of New Zealand, during 1866–67,” by Dr. Hector.
“On a new form of Mudfish from New Zealand,” by Dr. Albert Günther, F.R.S.” Extracted from the “Annals and Magazine of Natural History,” for November, 1867.
“Notes on the Moa remains in the New Zealand Exhibition, 1865,” by Dr. Hector. Extract from the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London.
“Notes on New Zealand Insects,” by W. Buller, F.L.S. Extract from the Zoologist, August, 1867. Presented by the author.

Papers read: “On Building Materials for New Zealand,” by J. C. Crawford, Esq., F.G.S.


The author commenced by pointing out the causes which have led to the general use of wood for building purposes in the towns of New Zealand, and the disadvantages of this material. In the city of Wellington, corrugated iron is now used extensively for stores; but, although as a partial safeguard against fire this material has an advantage over timber, in other respects it is subject to similar and other disadvantages, among which the effects of temperature are greatest. In considering what is the best permanent material for building in Wellington and other towns similarly situated, the following points must be kept in mind:—1st, the risk from earthquakes; 2nd, the prevalence of high winds. To guard against the first danger, the building ought to be, if

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possible, monolithic. To lessen the wear and tear caused by the action of high winds the building and its roof should be as low as is consistent with the required accommodation. A wooden building may be considered an approach to a monolith, except that its chimneys are detached, and, consequently, dangerous, but the narrow walls and high pitched roofs in vogue give great power of leverage to high winds. It will be found impossible to make a monolithic building of stone or brick, and the best material to meet our requirements seems to be concrete. This material has lately come into extensive use in Europe, and more particularly in France, where it is stated to have been found much stronger than stone, and much cheaper than either stone or brick. It was first applied to the construction of bridges and sewage drains, then to church architecture, and finally to dwelling houses. There are many reasons for the adoption of concrete as the chief building material in Wellington. (1,) There is a deficiency in the supply of the ordinary materials, with the exception of timber; (2,) the power of making a building monolithic would be an immense protection from the risk of damage by earthquakes, and its additional weight and strength would obviate shaking by wind; (3,) if the flat roof be introduced the leverage power exercised by the wind would be reduced to a minimum; (4,) the supply of sand and gravel is ample, in and near the city. The required materials for the cement can be readily procured from the east coasts of this and of the Southern Island, where they may be procured in unlimited quantities. Mr. Crawford cited the reports of the commissioners on the Paris Exhibition, and articles in the Building News, in support of his statements, and also quoted from an article in the November number of the Fortnightly Review, entitled “The future of London Architecture.” The writer of this article states the concrete to be formed of gravel combined with hydraulic mortar and sand. According to experiments made in France, and the Building News, concrete formed with a proportion of five parts of cement to two of lime and thirty-six of sand, has an ultimate strength of four tons to the inch, being twice that of Portland stone, eight times that of Bath stone, and sixteen times that of brickwork, as determined by the experiments undertaken by the Institute of British Architects in 1863; and the cost of such concrete walling is only half that of brickwork.

The Secretary asked Mr. Crawford if he referred to the chemical or simply the mechanical process of making artificial stone because he

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understood there was a chemical mode by which artificial stone was made, somewhat in the way in which natural stone is formed.

Mr. Crawford imagined that in the formation of any concrete for building purposes, the means used would be both mechanical and chemical. The concrete, however, the use of which he advocated, was not a chemical compound like Ransome's cement, but one of a much cheaper character, being composed of ordinary building materials, such as lime, sand, and gravel.

Mr. Sheath thought the principal question that would have to be considered, was whether buildings of concrete could be erected as cheaply as those of timber. The answer to this question would probably determine whether concrete would be brought into general use in this colony or not.

The Chairman asked whether the concrete had been tried in countries subject to earthquakes?

Mr. Crawford said he believed it had been principally used in France and England.

The Secretary read a series of papers by Mr. Skey, Analyst, detailing some of the most interesting results of the work performed in the Colonial Laboratory during the last few weeks.

(1.) A paper on the amount of silver in gold from Makara. An analysis showed it to contain 13.60 per cent of silver, a rather large proportion, making it approximate in this respect to the least argentiferous gold from Coromandel, but having an excess of silver over the Whakamarina gold.

(2.) A paper giving the results of an analysis of the fixed constituents of rain water collected from a galvanized iron roof; the analysis having been undertaken more especially with the view to determine the quantity of zinc and arsenic present.

One gallon of the water yielded 1.16 grains of matter, fixed at a dull heat, which analysis divided as follows:

[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

Silica .656
Sesquioxide of Iron .224
Alumina .112
Lime .048
Magnesia traces
Alkalies "
Oxide of Zinc .120
Carbonic acid traces
Hydrochloric acid "
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(3.) “On supposed Coal from the Auckland Islands,” which proved to be Crystalline Hornblende.

(4.) “On Extract of Towai bark,” furnished by Mr. Grayling, of Taranaki.

[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

Water 21.5
Catechuic Acid 42.5
Tannic Acid 31.1
Lignin 1.8
Gum, and undetermined matter 3.1

These results show that the substance is chemically allied to the gum Kino of commerce. The Towai is the “Weinmannia Silvicola,” and is closely allied to the tree that affords that gum, so that their value is about equal.

(5.) “On the water from the Whangaehu River, Onetapu, Auckland,” furnished by Gilbert Mair, Esq., R.M.

The Whangaehu river rises from within a few yards of the source of the Waikato, on the eastern slopes of Ruapehu mountain, in the interior of the North Island, and flows into the sea south of the Wanganui River.

Its waters are intensely bitter, and of a milky colour for many miles from the source; the bitter taste of the mineral substance which the water holds in solution is quite appreciable at the mouth of the river, after a course of about seventy miles.

It was down this river that the wonderful avalanche of ice and mud forced its way from Ruapehu to the sea, in 1863, scouring out the bed of the river, destroying a bridge, and doing great damage to the native cultivations.

The cause of the avalanche may no doubt be attributed to a sudden escape of vapours, from the same volcanic source that gives origin to the mineral waters.

A specimen of the water from near the source of the river, forwarded by Mr. Gilbert Mair, has been analysed with the following result.

Water persistently turbid from the presence of clayey matter, taste very sour. Contains the constituents of potash alum, with the addition of a little chloride of magnesium, and protochloride of iron. The total of fixed matters obtained from 2 oz. of the water was .370 grammes, or at the rate of 456 grammes per gallon.

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(6.) “On Phosphate of Lime for manure,” sent by Mr. Ryburn, of Auckland, for analysis.

The analysis showed this to be a really valuable manure, admirably adapted from its richness in phosphates, and especially in soluble phosphates, to supply growing crops with the one thing which is most useful, viz: phosphoric acid.

This manure was sold by Messrs. W. and T. Hurst, of Auckland.

(7.) “On Coal from Preservation Inlet,” forwarded for examination by Mr. Eccles, of Dunedin.

From which it appeared that this coal belongs to the series of hydrous or Brown coals, and, as is usual with such, its proportion of sulphur is very large.

As a fuel therefore it ranks in value with the Clutha, and Saddle Hill coals of the Middle Island. The following is an analysis:

[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

Water 16.20
Fixed Carbon 41.23
Hydro Carbon 29.43
Sulphur 5.40
Ash 7.74

Per-centage of water upon carbonaceous matter, 21.29.

Mr. R. H. Huntley read a paper entitled “Remarks on some of the Coleopterous Insects which injure fruit and other trees in the neighbourhood of Wellington;” and laid before the meeting specimens of the insects referred to in the paper.


After explaining upon what trees the various insects feed, the author pointed out that it is almost impossible to get at the eggs or larvæ to destroy them; although in the latter state the insects are most mischievous, because their presence is not noticed until the withering of the leaves shows that they have done their work. Numbers of small birds, to destroy the perfect insects before they have time to lay their eggs, seems to be the only remedy. A small brown beetle, which makes its appearance in the apple trees when the apples are about the size of cherries, is a great pest; it eats the skin, particularly near the stalk, and the apple falls. Mr. Huntley first noticed it four or five years ago, and since that time its numbers have enormously increased. In his orchard this spring, the dropping of these insects was like the rattle of a shower of rain on the leaves of the trees. They were in millions, and

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did great damage. He has tried dusting with lime, and on particular trees, tobacco water, soapsuds, and sulphur, but without effect. The beetle, however, does not confine its ravages to apple-trees, but attacks gooseberries, strawberries, cherries, and, to a small extent, peaches. It eats the leaves of all these, and of most forest trees, and the petals of most flowers, particularly roses and geraniums. Mr. Huntley has not been able to find the larvæ of this insect, which comes and departs with equal suddenness, but suggests that if the larvæ be on the ground, it might be destroyed by the use of ammonia water from gas works.

Mr. Travers directed attention to the necessity of the mould imported with plants, being either calcined or destroyed immediately upon its arrival, as it often contains the larvæ of destructive foreign insects.

(8.) The Secretary read a paper by Mr. Skey, describing a “Proposed improvement in the mechanical separation of Liquids from each other in certain Analyses for Alkaloids.”


In certain analytical operations, more especially where alkaloids are sought for in cases of suspected poisoning, it is necessary to remove liquids floating upon others. At present this object is effected, or rather partially effected, by manual dexterity. As a substitute for this method, Mr. Skey proposes to expel the ether by means of mercury, in some such way as this: The stopper is removed from the bottle containing the two fluids, and a damp cork hollowed out at its narrow end substituted, inserted into which are two tubes, of small bore, one a straight tube, long enough to reach deep into the bottle, and to project a few inches above. The other—the delivery tube—is U shaped, and just caps the hollow of the cork with one of its legs. The long tube is tightly connected with a tap, communicating with a reservoir of mercury above. The mercury being then turned on, the whole, or practically the whole, of the ether solution is passed through the U shaped tube, uncontaminated with any of the heavier saline fluid beneath. By regulating or cutting off the supply of mercury, it is easy to take determinate quantities of ether, measured, if desired, by drops, as discharged from the delivery tube. The object of having the mercury tube narrow, is, that the ether may be forced along with the rest, on the principal of the mercurial air pump.

Mr. Skey illustrated this paper by experiments.

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(9.) The Secretary read a paper by Mr. Skey, “On the Solubility of the Alkaloids generally in certain Hydrocarbons, and the proposed substitution of Ether by Benzol, in the separation of certain of the Alkaloids.”


When strychnia or veratria is warmed for a short time with benzol, kerosine, or turpentine, it dissolves to a large extent, but only a small deposit of the alkaloid takes place when the solution is cooled. When an aqueous solution of strychnia and chloride of calcium, or hydrate of potash, is agitated with benzol or kerosine, it seems entirely to attach itself to the oil. To obtain these results it appears necessary to employ heat in the one case, and powerful affinities of some foreign substance in the other—affinities which, of course, must not extend to the alkaloid itself. Nicotina is also extracted from an aqueous alkaline solution by benzol or benzine, and analogically, it may reasonably be assumed that the greater part of the remaining alkaloids are also soluble therein, under certain conditions. The alkaloids mentioned can be completely removed from the several solvents by re-agitation with hydrochloric or sulphuric acids, etc. The solubility of these alkaloids in benzol, Mr. Skey proposes to turn to account, by substituting the latter for ether in those methods of analysis where ether or ethereal solutions are in use as mediums for their separation from organic matter. The great advantage to be gained by the substitution, would be derived from the fact that water has no chemical affinities for benzol, while it has for ether, and sufficient to interfere with its use.

(10.) A paper by Mr. Skey, entitled “Notes on the proposed substitution of Cyanide of Potassium for Sodium, in certain amalgamating processes for the extraction of Gold from Metallic Sulphides, etc.,” was read.


The results of some experiments (not, however, fully completed), made by Mr. Skey, for the purpose of ascertaining the value of cyanide of potassium, as a preventive of the flouring of mercury used for the extraction of gold, shows that cyanide of potassium does certainly prevent the sickening and flouring of mercury, or its tarnishing and granulation; but as cyanogen appears capable of dissolving-metallic mercury, and is certain to be liberated from cyanide of potassium by carbonic acid, always present, it is questionable if cyanide of potassium could ever be profitably substituted for sodium as a preventive to the flouring of mercury. Even if there did not seem to exist this affinity of cyanogen

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for metallic mercury, there is this also to be considered—that the sodium puts the mercury in an electro-positive state, thus increasing its affinity for gold; while the effects of cyanide of potassium appear to be entirely confined to its property of keeping the surface of mercury bright.

Chemical Papers.

Copies of the following papers, which had been forwarded by Mr. Skey for publication in the London Chemical News, were laid on the table:

“On the solubility of Amorphous Silica in Ammonia.”
“On the production of a fragrant volatile substance from Resins, by oxydation, etc.”
“On the absorption of Arsenic, Arsenious and Tungstic Acids, from solution, by Charcoal.”
“On the coagulation and precipitation of Clay from Water by neutral salts generally.”
“On the formation of a series of Double Sulphocyanides of certain of the alkaloids with the metals Tin, Zinc, Mercury, Molybdenum, Iron, Platinum, and Gold.”

Geological Papers.

Mr. Crawford read the following papers, which had been transmitted by Dr. Hector:

“Report by Mr. Buchanan on the Geology of the country between the Lower Clutha and Mataura Rivers.” (See Geological Survey Reports, 1868.)

“Report by Captain Hutton on the Geology of the Great Barrier Island.” (See Geological Survey Reports, 1868.)

Second Meeting. April 7, 1868.
The Bishop of Wellington, Vice President, in the chair.

The Chairman explained the course that would have to be adopted, to obtain the incorporation of the Society, under the rules adopted by the Governors of the New Zealand Institute; and read the bye-law passed by the Council.

Resolved, “That the name of the Society be changed, and that it be called henceforth, the ‘Wellington Philosophical Society.”’

Resolved, “That the Society be incorporated with the New Zealand Institute.”

Resolved, “That the Chairman of this Meeting, and the Secretary of the Society, be authorized to sign, and forward to the Governors of the Institute, the certificate required under Rules Nos. 1 and 2.”

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Resolved, “That one-sixth part of the annual income of the Society, be contributed towards the extension and maintenance of the Museum and Library of the ‘New Zealand Institute.”’

Resolved, “That every Member of the Society be entitled to admit, by personal introduction, two friends to the Ordinary Meetings of the Society.”

The business of a special character being concluded at half-past eight o'clock, the proceedings of the Ordinary Quarterly Meeting commenced.

The Secretary read his Report.

The following papers were read:

(1.) “Notes on the Earthquake felt in Wellington on the 1st of February, 1868,” by the Bishop of Wellington.


The author commenced by stating that he thought it might be interesting, to keep some record of the earthquakes felt in this locality and neighbourhood.

The earthquake referred to, was a smart shock felt in Wellington, at 8 a.m. on February 1st, 1868. It appeared to come from the north-east, and threw down a picture leaning against the north-east wall of his house. Another shock occurred thirteen seconds after, which was the sharpest of the two. Mr. Ludlam, at the Hutt, observed the pines in his garden bow down from south-west towards north-east. The shock was not felt much by persons inside his house. A rumbling noise was heard at the time.

Residents at Paikakariki (west coast), Otaki, Wanganui and Taranaki, felt the shock, but only one at the same hour, and all agreed that it came from the seaward.

At Marlborough, an earthquake shock was felt, preceded by a rumbling noise. It seemed to come from a south-west direction, and the earth during its progress could be plainly seen to move. The oscillations of the houses were visible to those outside, but little actual damage was done. The earthquake was the severest that had been felt for some years, and lasted a few seconds.

At Lyttelton, the shock was reported to have been felt at about ten minutes to eight o'clock; it appeared to run from west to east, and lasted about three seconds.

At Nelson, a rather smart shock was felt at about seven minutes before eight. It was preceded by a slighter motion. The movement,

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the apparent direction of which was from north-east to south-west, was felt more on low lying grounds than on higher lands.

(2.) “On Boulders and travelled Blocks in the Wellington Province,” by J. C. Crawford, Esq., F.G.S. (See Transactions.)

(3.) “On New Zealand Agricultural Implements,” principally in reference to a newly-invented Fern-cutting Machine, a model of which was exhibited, by R. Pharazyn, Esq., F.R.G.S.

(4.) “On a new ‘Chiton’ from Wellington Harbour,” and (5,) “On a ‘Fluke’ from the Intestinal Canal of a Snapper.” Specimens of both exhibited, by W. T. L. Travers, Esq., F.L.S.

(6.) “On suggestions and experiments on the Smelting of Taranaki Iron Sand,” by R. Pharazyn, Esq., F.R.G.S.


The author had frequently heard it stated, that one of the most serious difficulties in producing iron or steel from the well known Titaniferous Iron Sand of Taranaki, was owing to its mechanical condition, which made it exceedingly troublesome to smelt, the whole mass of iron in a furnace falling to the bottom like a fluid, thus preventing the blast from acting properly upon it.

It appeared to him that a remedy might be found by making, as it were, an artificial iron ore of the sand, and thus smelting it in the ordinary manner. He had tried some simple blow-pipe experiments, and found that although he could not obtain a temperature sufficiently high to melt the iron sand, yet it was easy to produce an ore compact and hard enough to stand considerable pressure. By mixing one-third in bulk of ordinary impure sandy clay, with two-thirds in bulk of iron sand, at a full red heat, a hard ironstone was produced. This mixture of binding materials with the iron sand would in no way interfere with the subsequent process of manufacture, but might indeed be of assistance, since it is well known that about half as much limestone as iron, by weight, is used as a flux, to promote the fusion of ordinary iron ores.

Mr. Pharazyn quoted from “Percy's Metallurgy,” on the composition and qualities of slags and fluxes, and the way they aid in the extraction of particular metals. One of these consists of nearly the same combination of materials usually found in poor clays, with lime added, namely:

Silica 38.
Lime 50.
Alumina 6.
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and a small per-centage of magnesia and manganese. In Muspratt's translation of Plattner's work on the Blow-pipe, a tabular view is given of the action of the different fluxes employed, in what may be called, Smelting Works on a small scale, from which it would be easy to arrive at some conclusion as to what might best be used in extensive operations. In the “Juror's Reports to the New Zealand Exhibition, 1865,” p. 452, a tabular statement of the analyses of nine of the N. Z. black sands is given, from which it appears that the Taranaki iron sand contains no less than 56 per cent of metallic iron.

[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

Magnetic Iron (oxides) 71.00
Titanic Iron 8.00
Siliceous matter 21.00

a very large proportion, whilst the per-centage of Titanium is very appreciable, being about 1.5 per cent. Whether this quantity is sufficient to produce all the wonderful effects attributed to it, is doubtful. It is certain that remarkably good steel is produced from the iron sand alone, and the only question is, whether it can be economically produced in this country, which will depend chiefly on the supply of fuel obtainable near those places where the sand is found.

It cannot be doubted that the freight saved would yield a very handsome profit to the manufacturer, and enable him to compete with the European ironmaster here, even if he should not be able to undersell him in his own country.

Third Meeting. July 28, 1868.
J. C. Crawford, Esq., F.G.S., in the chair.

The chairman explained that, during the session, a series of addresses on subjects of interest would be delivered, under the auspices of the Governors of the New Zealand Institute; and that a course of four lectures on the Geology of New Zealand, would be delivered by Dr. Hector. The chairman also informed the members that since their last meeting, steps had been taken to incorporate their Society with the New Zealand Institute, and that a favourable reply had been received. He then explained the privileges they would enjoy as members of the Institute, and the rules to which they became subject. He urged the members to enter into an honourable rivalry with the other local institutions in the colony, and to show that they were not to be

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surpassed in the excellence of their papers and lectures on matters of scientific interest. It was especially desirable that all classes should be enlisted in the interests of science, because a careful observance of facts in different quarters, would, if properly reported to the Society, be of great value. Several gentlemen in other provinces had subscribed to their Society, but as they now possessed local institutions of a similar character, it was considered unfair to call upon them to contribute, and it had therefore been proposed to refund their subscriptions.

The Secretary, Mr. R. Pharazyn, read a special report respecting the arrangements that had been made since joining the New Zealand Institute, and a list of the books which had been added to the library since last meeting.

Dr. Hector read a report by Captain Hutton, F.G.S., “On the gold bearing district near Rangiriri,” and pointed out that it appeared to indicate gold under conditions more nearly resembling the goldfields in the South, than those of the Thames district; also, “An abstract of a letter from T. R. Hackett, Esq.,” containing notes on the Queensland goldfields. He also laid upon the table, a report by the Government Geologist for South Queensland, “On the geological and mining features of the Gympie goldfield;” and in adverting to the progress of gold discoveries, gave the following returns of the amount of gold found between the years 1492 and 1867, throughout the world. (See Appendix.)

In reporting some of the most interesting results of the labours of the geological department since last meeting, Dr. Hector said that there had been upwards of five hundred analyses made in the laboratory, and the results of each had been entered in a book, which was open for inspection by members. The principal analyses recently made were of samples from the large deposits of Brown coal which had been found in Southland. This coal occurred in seams of great thickness—being in some places over thirty-five feet thick—and though it was inferior in quality to the coal on the West Coast, it would no doubt prove of great local value, and perhaps be extensively used for steam coasting purposes. There were also thin seams of a true black coal, associated with sandstone, abounding in mesozoic fossils. The mineral waters from the geysers in the Bay of Plenty had also been analysed. Dr. Hector stated that there was now sufficient evidence to prove that the hot springs at Roturua were produced by the contact of fresh water with hot rocks, while the springs at White Island were entirely different, owing to their being dependent upon the access of salt water. Dr. Hector also explained that the

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source of heat at these different localities, some sixty miles apart, might be in some way connected; and that the character of the salts contained in thermal waters depends on local circumstances. These chemical investigations had been made in continuation of a paper communicated to the Auckland Society. A few metallic ores had been added to those previously known. Further, that Mr. Skey in the course of some recent investigations had discovered a new process for desilvering argentiferous gold, such as that found at the Thames goldfields. The processes at present in use, for separating the silver from the gold are costly and tedious, but Mr. Skey had found that an addition of bichromate of potass (in the proportion of five parts to every three of silver contained in the argentiferous gold) to the ordinary melting pot, will remove the silver, along with all traces of iron and copper, contained in the gold. The process is being tried on a larger scale on the Thames, by the assayer to the banks, and Mr. Henry Severn, the chief assayer to the Union Bank, who is at present inspecting the Thames goldfield, has undertaken to report as to the practical utility of the process, the great advantages of which will be obvious to all metallurgists. The pressure of business for the evening prevented the reading of Mr. Skey's paper on the subject.

The chairman announced that the first paper on the list was by Dr. J. Haast, F.R.S., “On the measurement of Dinornis bones.” (See Transactions.) In the absence of Dr. Haast, the principal portions of the paper were read by Dr. Hector, matters of detail being omitted.

Mr. Mantell wished to know how it was possible to determine, otherwise than by means of the crania, whether a number of bones taken out of a confused heap, belonged to Dinornis or Palapteryx.

Dr. Hector said that Dr. Haast must have had great difficulty in determining the different varieties from the data at his command. It was hard to see how Professor Owen himself could assign a single bone to a different variety or even to a different genus. Dr. Haast appeared to have been guided almost entirely by proportional dimensions, and in that respect, he had followed the example of Professor Owen. Disregarding mere difference of size, without accompanying differences in proportion, there appeared to be five different kinds, but the specimens of bones on the table would show how many gradations there are if measurement be taken as the sole criterion.

Mr. Travers said that where the bones were found mature, Dr. Haast seemed to have determined their species by their relative proportions. Supposing it should be ascertained that the test was not

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a good one, Dr. Haast must be absolved from all blame, seeing that he had followed Professor Owen.

Mr. Mantell had not considered it necessary to state, that he merely wished to remark, that Dr. Haast showed great courage in endeavouring to determine species, upon no other data than (what he took the liberty of considering), the very unsatisfactory test adopted by Professor Owen.

(2.) The Chairman read a short paper, “On indications of changes in the level of the Coast Line of the southern part of the North Island,” as deduced from the occurrence of drift pumice.


Mr. Crawford remarked, that pumice having a small specific gravity, floats in water, and in the rivers flowing from the volcanic plateau in the interior of this island, it may be seen descending in great quantities and at all hours, towards the sea; when there, it is, of course, liable to be washed up at any point of the shore, and if there is no cause again to carry it away, it necessarily remains stranded.

Pumice is found on the flats in the peninsula, near this city, at a height of about eight or ten feet above the present high-water mark. He had not observed it on any of the coast terraces, consequently it is probable that the land had attained within ten to twenty feet of its present level, before the volcanic chain sent pumice to the sea; and this will give an age to the present coast line, or to one from ten to twenty feet lower (supposing a steady rise of the land), enough to satisfy a very ardent lover of antiquity.

He concluded by saying, it may therefore be held that the probabilities are against any great oscillation of the present sea level in this part of New Zealand, since the commencement of the vast period which must have elapsed since the central volcanic group of Tongariro and Ruapehu (and Mount Egmont inclusive) began to send down pumice to the coast.

Dr. Hector said that pumice was a mechanical variety of Obsidian, the most perfectly fused product of volcanic eruption, and did not indicate any particular era in a volcanic eruption, or elevation of a chain of mountains as Mr. Crawford seemed to require for his theory. The whole of the eastern shore of Lake Taupo had been formed by windblown pumice. Along some of the rivers that had cut through the slate rocks on their way to the sea at Hawke's Bay, there were terraces with pumice clinging to the sides of the valleys, four hundred feet above the water, showing clearly that the pumice was of great age, as it must have been deposited by the rivers, when they ran at a much greater height

– 39 –

than at present. Mr. Crawford did not prove by his paper that the sea had not been relatively lower, or, in other words, that the land had not been undergoing submergence. The sea could never have been at a much higher level, or the pumice would have been drifted up, but there is every reason to believe that the country was much higher formerly, and, in the interior, contained larger lakes, by which the pumice would be drifted up at great heights above the sea.

Mr. Hart thought that indications of sea level, by deposits of pumice, could not be relied upon as a measure of time, and instanced cases of sudden elevations or depressions in this province.

Mr. Travers said there were other indications of an alteration in the elevation of the coast line, for instance, the raised sea beach on the Hutt road.

On the motion of Mr. Mantell, the discussion of Mr. Crawford's paper was deferred until the first meeting after it should have been printed.

(3.) On “Hybridization with reference to variation in Plants,” by W. T. L. Travers, Esq., F.L.S. (See Transactions.)

Dr. Hector remarked that it was highly satisfactory that a gentleman who was a member of that Society had, by close observation of nature in this colony, arrived at conclusions on this subject, which were almost identical with some of the views now advocated by Darwin, and he understood from Mr. Travers, that the substance of his paper was communicated to Dr. Hooker, in a letter, some years ago.

(4.) A paper by Mr. Buchanan, botanist and draughtsman to the museum, on “Variation in New Zealand Flora,” (Reserved) was read by Dr. Hector, but as it was thought desirable to consider these two papers together, the discussion was postponed until next meeting.

Mr. Mantell suggested that the discussion would be rendered more interesting and intelligible, if specimens of the plants referred to by the essayists were laid on the table.

Resolved, “That the ordinary meetings of the Society should, in future, be held at half-past seven for business, and that the reading of papers should commence at eight o'clock.

Fourth Meeting. August 25, 1868.
W. T. L. Travers, Esq., F.L.S., in the chair.

Papers read:

(1.) Mr. Crawford read the following notes by Mr. E. Baker, “On the

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appearance of a Meteor, which had been recently observed by several persons in the neighbourhood of Wellington.”

“At about a quarter after seven o'clock, on the evening of the 5th of August, and while at work in the bush, observed a light very much brighter than the moon, which had just risen, and was only two days past the full, shining brightly in a clear sky. The light appeared to be a large round ball of fire, about the size of the moon, travelling from an easterly direction towards the west. The ball of fire burst, and a portion of it apparently struck the ground at about fifty to one hundred yards from my house at Karori. The meteor produced a very strange feeling upon me, but which I cannot describe.

“There was a rumbling noise at the time of the descent of the meteor.”

The Chairman, Mr. Braithwaite, and Mr. Steward, remarked that they had also seen the meteor referred to.

Dr. Hector hoped that such unusual phenomena would be closely observed in future. In Europe, the whole of the circumstances would be recorded with the greatest accuracy, and he suggested that all who had made observations, should reduce them to writing, and send them to the Secretary.

(2.) On “The Orthography of the Maori language,” by J. C. Crawford, Esq., F.G.S.


It was a subject of congratulation to the inhabitants of New Zealand, that in the reduction of the Maori tongue to a written language, a system of orthography has been adopted, similar to that of the languages of Southern Europe, inasmuch as the letters are pronounced as they are spelt.

The Maori tongue has been thereby relieved from the grotesque aspect, which many aboriginal and Eastern languages have assumed, under the attempt to reduce them to intelligible sounds, by the use of the undefined and variable English alphabet. It would not be out of place to offer a few remarks on the peculiarity of the English orthography, of the application of the same system to the pronunciation of the classical languages, and of the effects thereby produced on the inhabitants of the British Isles, and of other countries with whom they have become associated.

The great peculiarity of the English tongue as distinguished from the languages of the European continent, is the number of medial sounds which it contains.

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These sounds are represented by the usual Roman alphabet, each vowel having, in consequence, to do duty for a great variety of sounds, which makes it so difficult for the foreigner, accustomed to well defined sounds in his own language, to acquire the correct pronunciation of the English tongue.

From this cause, the defect of what may be called vowel deafness, has been inflicted on a large portion of the human race, including not only the population of the British Isles, but the swarming multitudes which have thence spread over the world, to conquer nations and to found colonies.

Mr. Crawford then gave a list of words in various languages, in proof of what he had said; and concluded by remarking, that it was therefore very commendable in those who first reduced the Maori tongue to a written language, that a system had been adopted by them of definite vowel sounds, which thus gave to the language a much more civilized aspect than it would have presented under the usual painful attempts, which are vainly made to reduce aboriginal sounds to the rule, or no rule, of English orthography.

Tareha,—Native Member in the House of Representatives for the Eastern District,—then gave a description of the Maori house, in which the meeting was assembled. His Honor the Superintendent of Hawke's Bay interpreting. Tareha spoke as follows:

“In accordance with the request made to me, I shall now give the meeting an account of this house, its history and origin.

“Such a building, as this, is only erected by men holding a high position among the tribes, it is a sign of chieftanship, and the proprietor becomes a noted man. The whole tribe assist in building it when called together by the chief for that purpose.

“This house was built at Tauranga, in Poverty Bay, by Rahurahi, or Lazarus, in 1845, during Governor Fitzroy's administration. When finished, all the tribes that had an interest in it were called together to discuss their affairs. It was about the time when you Europeans introduced Christianity amongst us, consequently many important subjects were talked over. The name of the house is ‘Tehaukituranga.’ All these carved posts represent certain individuals, ancestors of mine; the lower and larger figures represent the fathers, the upper ones their sons. Most of them have their names attached, as you may observe, but the oldest names have become obliterated.

“This is considered an important and valuable property among the

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Maoris, but misfortunes visited the land, troubles were cast upon us, the tribes were scattered, and the result is that the house now stands here. When the king movement commenced, dissension and jealousy arose amongst the natives; it was found to be wrong, and you all know how the evil has been atoned for. Then other natives created a new god, and called him ‘Hau Hau;’ this movement commenced on the east side of the country and crossed over to the west, and led to the death of Mr. Volkner. In consequence of all this, and through other troubles and dissensions, the house has become your property.”

Kie Kie, one of the ex-prisoners from the Chatham Islands, and a relative of Tareha's, on being requested by the meeting, gave some further particulars; he stated that the three distinguishing marks of a New Zealand chief, were a mere poanamu, a dog-skin mat, and a house like this. It was only chiefs, men who are well skilled in the art of carving, who own such buildings. On great occasions, the chiefs only were admitted.

In reply to some questions put to him, Tareha said, that it took the tribe about five years to prepare the carved posts. Each figure had something distinctive about it, but he would have to examine closely before he could say who was represented by each. The tools formerly used in the construction of such buildings were made of bone and were of very ancient origin, having been brought from the land originally inhabited by the Maoris; in later times hard stone was used instead. All those who came first in the Tanetewa canoe were well skilled in carving; this was one of the great works of their descendants. The name of the man who invented painting was Tuaneko. The ancient god of carving was Taukaruo.

A general vote of thanks was awarded to Tareha, by the meeting, at the conclusion of his address. In acknowledging which, Tareha said he did not think he could undertake to give a history of all the persons represented by the figures, on which much dependance could be placed. He doubted much whether he was sufficiently well acquainted with the subject to do so.

(2.) “A preliminary Notice on the recently experienced Earthquakes and Tidal Phenomena,” by J. Hector, Esq., M.D., F.R.S. (See Transactions.)

In answer to Mr. Pharazyn, Dr. Hector said, it was not merely the height of the wave that led him to believe the centre of disturbance to have been at a distance. The intervals between the waves were

– 43 –

equally long in the case of the earthquake at Japan, in 1854, which he had cited in the course of his remarks, but yet their effect was only detected by the use of instruments of great delicacy, whereas the recent waves on this coast had been obvious to the most casual observer. The only remaining conclusion, if they did not originate at a distance, was, that they originated in a series of shocks at close intervals; but this did not explain the other phenomena.

Dr. Hector then drew the attention of the meeting to some very inexpensive instruments for showing the vibration of the earth, both lateral and perpendicular, which were on the table.

(3.) A process for desilvering gold, like that obtained at the Thames diggings, was next described in a paper by Mr. Skey. (See. Transactions.) After some remarks from Mr. Crawford, Dr. Hector observed, that the importance of this new method was very great, when it was remembered that there was a proportion of about thirty-five per cent of silver in the gold found in that district; a matter of great importance with bankers and other exporters of gold, particularly as the process described was simple and inexpensive.

(4.) The last paper brought before the meeting, was one by W. L. Buller, Esq.,F.L.S., containing remarks upon a review of the author's Essay on the Ornithology of New Zealand, which appeared in a German periodical, from the pen of Dr. Otto Finsch, of Bremen. (See Transactions.) Dr. Hector stated, that in order to understand fully this paper of Mr. Buller's, it would be necessary to read also Dr. Finsch's critique, and also a part of the original Essay; this would take a considerable time, and he would therefore move that the paper be considered as read, and that it be printed, so that members could then examine the interesting details of the Ornithology of New Zealand at their leisure; this was the more advisable, since the paper contained descriptions of ten new species of birds; and many valuable notes and abstracts, which will be treated in detail in Mr. Buller's large work on the Ornithology of New Zealand, about to be published. The motion was agreed to.

Fifth Meeting. September 15, 1868.
The Hon. W. B. Mantell, F.G.S., in the chair.

Minutes of previous meeting were read and confirmed, and other routine business disposed of.

Papers read: (1.) “On the Celtic origin of English vowel sounds,” by the Right Reverend C. J. Abraham, Bishop of Wellington. (See Transactions.)

– 44 –

This treatise was discussed at considerable length, by several of the members, including Mr. Crawford, Mr. W. Pharazyn, Dr. Hector, and Mr. Mantell.

(2.) Dr. Hector read a notice of a Swordfish, which had lately been presented, by Dr. Knox, to the museum. Specimen, admirably prepared by Dr. Knox, exhibited.


The fish had been stranded on the West Coast, in June, 1867. Dr. Hector explained, that the specimen belonged to the genus “Histiophorus,” and not, as was supposed, to the “Xiphias,” the swordfish of the northern hemisphere, which is characterized by the absence of ventral fins.

Mr. Travers gave a very interesting account of several rare species of fish which have been found on our coasts, such as Banks’ Oar fish, of the genus Gymnetrus, one of these, the fourth of the kind ever described, was cast ashore in Nelson, and fragments saved by him are now in the British Museum: it was of an extraordinary form; fifteen feet in length, and about twice the width of the blade of an oar, and almost as thin. He exhibited a specimen of Gallus, from Salt Water creek, Canterbury, the second specimen ever found. And described some of the remarkable features of the Black fish, which is known to occasion great sickness or vertigo to those who slaughter them when stranded. Some years ago, two men were actually drowned, while cutting the throats of several of these fishes in Massacre Bay, having fallen on their faces in a few inches of water; Mr. Mackay, one of the party, saved his life and that of one of his companions, only by extraordinary exertions.

(3.) “On the Geographical Botany of New Zealand,” by James Hector, Esq., M.D., F.R.S. This was explanatory of a series of Essays, on the above subject, written by Sir D. Monro, and Messrs. Travers, Kirk, and Buchanan, for the New Zealand Exhibition, 1865, but which had not been printed for want of funds. They were now laid on the table, to appear among the Transactions of the Society. (See Transactions.)

Dr. Hector, in communicating these Essays, explained the chief physical peculiarities which regulate the distribution of the vegetation of the South Island, illustrating the same by maps and diagrams. The greatest altitude in such a section of the island was about ten thousand feet, but the mean elevation of the ridges that connect the summits of the higher mountains was only five thousand feet; while there occur

– 45 –

breaks, or “passes,” in the mountain chain, which, by permitting the passage of the western winds, give rise to local modifications of the flora, at the points where they lead out on to the eastern slope. These breaks have all about the same altitude of less than two thousand feet above the sea level, being sufficiently low to allow of the transfusion of many species of plants. After alluding to the marked difference in the character of the flora, caused by the climate, on the moist western slopes of the island, and the comparatively arid district in the interior, and parts of the east coast where forests are rare, Dr. Hector described the division of the flora into zones, according to position and altitude.

Considerable discussion ensued, in which Messrs. Travers, Hart, Hamilton, and Pharazyn, took part.

(4.) “On the Mineralogy of Gold in New Zealand,” by J. Hector, Esq., M.D., F.R.S.


The author explained that the manner of distribution of alluvial gold, is a separate question from the distribution of gold in the rock matrix. On the former subject he had already explained his views, and the object of the present communication was, to explain the conditions under which gold occurs in the rock matrix in New Zealand, and the minerals and rocks associated with it. The introductory portion of this paper involved a large amount of theoretical geology, which the author illustrated by maps and a longitudinal section of the islands. The second part of this paper had to be deferred.

Sixth Meeting. October 12, 1868. (Adjourned from October 6.)
The Hon. W. B. Mantell, F.G.S., in the chair.

His Excellency the Governor, Sir G. F. Bowen, G.C.M.G., was present.

Letter read from His Lordship the Bishop of Wellington, resigning the office of Vice President, on account of his being about to leave the colony.

Before proceeding to the papers for the evening, Dr. Hector exhibited some geological specimens, including two from “Golden claim,” Thames District. First, vein rock, highly pyritous, which had been analysed in the laboratory, and showed the following results: first sample, pulverized very finely and roasted, yielded on extraction, with mercury, at the rate of 683 oz. 16 dwt. per ton. A second sample of the same rock, more pyritous than the first, yielded to mercury, when finely

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pulverized, but not roasted, proportionally as follows to the several amalgamations:

[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

oz. dwt. gr.
1st amalgamation 1213 4 8
2nd " 89 3 14
3rd " 33 4 0
4th " traces
Total = 1335 11 22 per ton.

When, at last, only traces of gold could be extracted by mercury, the whole of the residue from these amalgamations was dried and well roasted, and the amalgamating process again repeated, when a very white alloy was obtained, consisting mostly of silver, in the proportion of 4 oz. 11 dwt. 9 gr. to the ton.

These results show plainly that all the gold is in a free state, and also that a portion of the silver present is in combination, and most probably with sulphur; the effect of roasting being to decompose, and so render the silver amenable to the affinities of mercury.

The second specimen was a felstone, a portion of the bed rock in which the above vein stone was found. It has not been hitherto valued by the miners, but analysis showed it to contain at the rate of 53 oz. 16 dwt. 6 gr. per ton. The proportion of silver in gold, on first amalgamation, was 29.60 per cent.

Several other geological specimens were laid on the table, including samples of siliceous deposit from the Waiotapu springs, pyritous quartz, and part of the gold obtained by Mr. Groves when prospecting in this province.

Papers read:

(1.) “A further notice of the Earthquake Wave,” by James Hector, Esq., M.D., F.R.S.

The author recapitulated some of the facts already explained at previous meetings, and added some interesting particulars received lately from other localities; his object being to place on record all the particulars obtainable, of this remarkable phenomenon. All parts of Australia appear to have been visited by the wave except Port Philip, as, for instance, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and King George's Sound. In South Australia, several slight earthquake shocks were felt, the two events, the shocks and the waves, being quite distinct. In Peru, the first great shock was felt at 5 p.m. on the 13th of August, which time corresponds in Wellington with 9 30 a.m. on the morning of Friday the

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14th. This shock is described to have come from the south-west, and there is no doubt that it was the result of a great submarine eruption, at a considerable distance from the coast, for it appears that there was sufficient time for the people to escape from the towns, along the shore to the hills, before the great wave arrived. The same wave reached New Zealand seventeen hours after, and its velocity having been calculated from the time it reached Chatham Islands, Australia, etc., was found to agree with previous results. The earthquake shock felt here must have travelled over six thousand miles; the wave having a slower velocity, or at the rate of about six miles per minute, reached us much later. Dr. Hector then, by means of maps and diagrams, explained the course such a wave would travel, forming a curve on maps laid down on Mercator's projection principle. He stated, that in the deep sea, the wave would only be felt by a slight tremor, and would be scarcely perceptible until it reached shallow water. The author concluded by saying, that we have no historic record of so stupendous a wave, and that the outburst which caused it must have been of a very unusual, and perhaps unprecedented character.

Captain Vine Hall, on being asked by the chairman, stated that the wave had been felt at Rapa, where it washed away a portion of the jetty. It arrived there apparently from the south-east, but he could not yet inform them of the exact time of its occurrence.

Mr. Hart explained why, in his opinion, Port Philip had not experienced any of the effects of the wave, from its narrow entrance, as well as the protection afforded by Tasmania. He endorsed Dr. Hector's opinion that the outburst must have been oceanic.

Dr. Hector wished to state, that it appeared from recent intelligence, that the south-east portion of the Chathams had felt the wave most, but not being so thickly populated as the western or northern portion, the damage done had not been so great.

Mr. Travers alluded to the New Zealand earthquake of 1855, as having caused an immense wave, over thirty feet in height, which did much damage along the east coast of this province, and expressed a wish that any one who knew the particulars of that event would communicate them to the Society.

Mr. Mantell and Mr. R. Pharazyn both remembered the occurrence, and spoke of the wave being about the height represented, and as having done much injury along the east coast.

(2.) “On the Island of Rapa,” by Capt. Vine Hall. (See Transactions.)

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(3.) “On New Zealand Mean Time,” by James Hector, Esq., M.D., F.R.S.

The author explained that it had been decided by the Legislature to establish, by statute, a mean time for the whole colony. This resolution had so many advantages that it was needless to discuss them; the only question to be decided was, what time should be used. The time for the colony at large may be calculated from any of the following meridians.

Firstly: New Zealand, including the small islands which form its dependencies, lies between the meridians

  • 178° 36′ 5″ east of Greenwich,
  • 166° 26′ 30″ "

The average meridian is therefore

  • 172° 31′ 17″.5 east.

Secondly: The meridian which has an equal area of land lying to the east and west of it, within New Zealand, is

  • 172° 48′ 57″ east.

Thirdly: The following is the approximate longitude of the various ports in the colony, to which telegraphic communication exists, or is in contemplation, and which at the same time form centres of districts, throughout which uniform time might be enforced without practical inconvenience.

It is preferable that the ports should be taken instead of the inland towns, when they do not happen to be in the same longitude, as in the case of Lyttelton and Christchurch, as minute accuracy of time is only of practical importance to mariners; and as, moreover, we have in New Zealand only chronometric differences of longitude as yet determined, and these only for the sea ports.

Auckland 174° 49′ 10″
Napier 176° 55′ 10″
New Plymouth 174°  4′ 58″
Wellington 174° 47′ 53″
Nelson 173° 16′ 58″
Picton 174° 17′ 30″
Westport 171° 45′ 00″
Lyttelton 172° 44′ 17″
Port Chalmers 170° 39′ 10″
Bluff 168° 21′ 55″

The average meridian of these places is

  • 173° 14′ 12″5.
– 49 –

The difference from Greenwich mean time, of each of the above average meridians, is

1. Mean longitude 11h. 30m. 5.2 sec.
2. Longitude of mean area 11h. 30m. 34.7 sec.
3. Average longitude of ports 11h. 32m. 56.9 sec.

The object being to establish one time for the whole colony, the adoption of which will cause the least inconvenience, the author recommended that the meridian of 172° 30′ east, be taken, for the following reasons:

1st. It is a close approximation to the average longitude for the colony.

2nd. The absolute longitude of any place in the colony has not yet been determined; and it is therefore better for a Statute to adopt a meridian, than an approximate longitude, for a place, which might hereafter require rectification.

3rd. Longitude 172° 30′ east is 11h. 30m. east of Greenwich; and being an even number, will be most suitable for the purpose of enabling mariners to compare the errors of their chronometers, on mean Greenwich time; while the adoption of the mean time of place, for any town or port in the colony, will have no practical advantages.

The following table shows the correction required to reduce the time for Meridian 172° 30′ to the mean time at the various ports; and the correction for any other place, can at once be found, by adding or subtracting four seconds for every minute of longitude the place lies east or west of 172° 30′.

To Telegraph or Statute Time, to find True Mean Time for

Auckland add 9 min. 16.7 sec.
Napier add 17 min. 31.7 sec.
Taranaki add 6 min. 13.9 sec.
Wellington add 9 min. 11.5 sec.
Nelson add 3 min. 7.9 sec.
Picton add 7 min. 11.0 sec.
Lyttelton add 0 min. 57.1 sec.
Westport subtract 3 min. 0. sec.
Port Chalmers subtract 6 min. 43.3 sec.
Bluff subtract 12 min. 35. sec.

The time could, as at present, be determined at Wellington by the meridian transit, as it will be most convenient that the time balls at the different ports should be dropped at 1 p.m. of the adopted statute time, which for Wellington would be at 1 h. 9 m. 11.5 sec, mean time of place. By providing the telegraph office clocks with two minute hands, indi-

– 50 –

cating the instant required for the difference between the longitude of the place east or west of 172° 30′ with the true time, telegraph time can be shown if desired.

(4.) “On the Merits of Patent Slips,” by J. R. George, Esq., C.E.; read by Mr. Travers, in the absence of the author.


The author commenced by observing, that as much misapprehension appears to exist in reference to the safety of patent slips, for the purpose of raising vessels of large tonnage out of the water, he had been induced to offer a few observations on the mode of working such slips, in order to show that it is premature to assert the absolute superiority of graving or floating docks. There appeared to be great difficulty in dealing with the subject, from the fact that very scanty data exist, and there is no work of reference as yet published on the subject.

The terms Slip and Wet Dock were formerly synonymous, and implied a narrow inlet of the same form as an ordinary graving dock, but with an inclined bottom, and having no flood-gates; this form of slip was, consequently, only of use in situations having a large rise and fall of tide.

The Americans appear to have first invented slips, and worked them under the name of “Patent Submarine Railways.” The first patent granted by the British government for slips, was in 1832, to Mr. Morton. In the report of the committee appointed to consider the renewal of that patent, they remarked, that by means of a slip, a vessel could be placed in a situation to be repaired, at a cost of £3, which previously amounted to £170; this is the first strong authority as to their capacity and usefulness for raising vessels.

It appears, from competent authority,* that a durable and substantial slip may be constructed, under favourable circumstances, at about one-tenth of the expense of a dry dock; and be laid down in situations where it is almost impossible from the nature of the ground, or the want of a rise and fall of tide, to have a dock built. Some of the other advantages deserving of mention are: the air has a free circulation all around the ship, and there is better and longer light than within the walls of a dry dock; there is a considerable saving of expense in the carriage of the necessary materials; the vessel is exposed to no strain whatever; and she may be hauled up, repaired, and launched, within a few hours, no interruption

[Footnote] * Messrs. Morton, in their circular.

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taking place as in docks, from the necessity of emptying and filling the dock with water.

Messrs. Morton add further, that ships of two thousand tons register have frequently been drawn out of the water by means of their slip; and they estimate the relative cost of slips and docks as 1 to 10.

Mr. George next gave some quotations from the Encyclopœdia Britannica, speaking in strong terms of the many advantages which slips possess over dry docks, particularly as to cost, which they quote as 1 to 20; he explained the method of using and working the slip, and quoted some examples as to the favour with which slips are now being looked upon. For instance, a slip for raising vessels of three thousand tons register, was supplied by Messrs. Morton to the Egyptian government; and Messrs. Inglis, of Glasgow, in 1867, erected a slip eight hundred feet in length, for raising vessels of three thousand tons, dead weight.

There did not appear to be on record any instance in which a ship has sustained permanent injury, when being placed on a slip, or in being launched. In the case of the first vessel placed on the Melbourne slip, she was satisfactorily raised out of the water, but, from the subsidence of the ways, would not run off again; the vessel was not permanently injured. The same difficulty as in Melbourne, occurred in launching the “Great Eastern,” in 1857, and with the iron-clad “Northumberland,” of six thousand six hunded and fifty tons register, and weighing eight thousand tons, at the Millwall iron works. The subsidence of the ways in the two last examples, is not much to be surprised at, when we remember that the foundation of the ways consisted of Thames mud.

On the other hand, graving docks also are not free from liability to accident. At Marseilles, the “Imperatrice,” a steam ship of upwards of two thousand tons register, fell bodily a height of three feet, from the giving way of the struts, after the water had been pumped out of the dock, and everything moveable in the vessel was broken.

The principal objection urged against slips is, that in launching a vessel she would be liable, as the phrase goes, to “break her back,” from the fact of her after part being afloat, and lifted by the action of the water, while her fore part was fixed in the carriage. This, the author endeavoured to dispel, by entering into a consideration of the force of waves during storms, and argued that a ship that could be so strained in being launched from a slip, as to be at all damaged, would not be in a fit state to resist the action of the sea during a storm, and therefore would be much better in port.

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Mr. George concluded by remarking, that extremes are dangerous in all things, and that he was not then prepared to assert the superiority of slips over docks, or docks over slips, but to show that those who are prepared to do so, ought also to be prepared to support their assertions either by citing some high authority, or by adducing facts in support of their assertions. Theory, practice, and science, must all naturally be brought to bear on such a subject; docks have been subject to all three. Theory and science have been applied to the question of the value of slips, but more practice is required before any assertion can be supported as to the superior convenience of a dock.

An abstract of a paper, by James Balfour, Esq., C.E., Marine Engineer, “On the merits of Graving Docks,” was then read, and both papers were discussed, the following gentlemen speaking on the subject: Dr. Hector, Captain Vine Hall, Mr. Travers, Mr. Crawford, and Mr. R. Pharazyn.