Art. X.—On the introduction of the Pheasant into the Province of Auckland.
[Read before the Auckland Institute, June 7, 1869.]
Exact information, as to the date of the introduction of plants and animals into a country, together with the numbers introduced, and the place where they were first turned out, will be of great value, in future years, to all naturalists studying the difficult subjects of the diffusion and replacement of species; and for this reason I have here placed on record all the information that I have been able to collect with reference to the first introduction of the Pheasant into this province; and I hope that any person who is in possession of more complete information, or who may know, with tolerable accuracy, the date of the first appearance of the bird in any part of the province, will kindly inform me.
In 1851, Mr. Thomas Henderson imported some Chinese Pheasants (Phasianus torquatus) direct from China, in the barque “Glencoe.” Two dozen were shipped, but only seven reached Auckland alive, five of which were cocks. These were turned out near Mr. Henderson's mill at Waitakerei. About the same time, or a little before, some English pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) were liberated at Mongonui by Mr. Walter Brodie.
In 1856, Mr. Thomas Henderson imported some more Chinese Pheasants in the schooner “Gazelle,” of which six only arrived alive. They were also turned out at Waitakerei.
These thirteen birds, most of them cocks, appear to have been the whole of the Chinese Pheasants imported into the province. For several years they were never seen, but gradually became more and more abundant in the neighbourhood of Auckland, and in the year 1865 they were so common as to be shot in considerable quantities. They seem to have made their first appearance in the Waikato in 1864 or 1865.
They are now extremely abundant from Auckland southwards, all through the Waikato and Thames districts, and have been seen near Lake Taupo. North of Auckland they have not spread so rapidly. They are tolerably abundant at Mahurangi, but are scarce further north. They have this year been seen at Whangarei.
The English Pheasants, although they appear to have multiplied freely at Mongonui, have not spread much, as they have not yet reached the Bay of Islands. Chinese Pheasants have been turned out at Tauranga, Tolago Bay, Napier, Raglan, Kawau, and Bay of Islands, within the last three years.
I may also add that, in 1862, Mr. William Hay turned out at Papakura two brace of Californian Quail (Ortyx Colifornica), these are now in thousands, and have spread for many miles. O. Californica has also been turned out at Hokianga, Kawau, Auckland, and Waikato.
Note by Mr. T. Kirk.—P. torquatus, first seen at Owaha in 1866. Not observed north of the Arapoua (Kaipara) in 1868, although a few birds were seen on the Oruawharo, possibly liberated from a cattle station on that river.