First Meeting. 1st March, 1871.
Julius Haast, Ph.D., F.R.S., President, in the chair.
New members.—Mr. Robison, Captain Clogstoun.
The balance-sheet for the past year was read and adopted. It showed that the total receipts to 29th October, 1870, were £207 19s. 6d., and the expenditure for the year £190 16s. 3d., leaving a balance in hand of £17 3s. 3d.
Some discussion took place in reference to a collection of grasses laid on the table by Mr. Armstrong, and it was decided “That the President, Mr. Armstrong, and Mr. Wilkie, the chairman of the Grass Committee, should form a committee to take into consideration the best mode of displaying them in the Museum for the instruction of the public, to report at the next general meeting.”
Several presentations of works to the Society were laid on the table.
Dr. Powell moved that the words “which members shall be thereupon considered elected,” shall be added at the conclusion of Rule XII, as it now stands.
Mr. Davie seconded the motion.
After much discussion it was pointed out that by Rule XLII no alteration of any existing law shall be made, except at the annual meeting in November, or at a special general meeting summoned for that purpose. It was finally decided, on the motion of Dr. Turnbull, seconded by Mr. George Hall, “that the Council be requested to take into consideration the propriety of amending Rule XII.”
The President then read his inaugural address entitled, “On Moas and Moa Hunters.” (See Transactions, p. 66.) At the conclusion of the address discussion ensued.
Mr. Davie was of opinion that the author had not by any means clearly established that the Moa-hunters were a distinct race from the Maoris. He thought that the fact of the extreme rarity of implements betraying any degree of finish in the kitchen-middens of the Moa-hunters might be accounted for by the abundance of material at hand, the implements being roughly chipped, and thrown aside when done with; whereas those of a rarer material, on
which time and pains had been bestowed, would be treasured and carried about.
The Rev. Mr. Fraser spoke in favour of the theory of two races, but pointed out that the Maoris might have been identical with the Moa-hunters. There was no doubt that in Europe the Palæolithic and Neolithic races co-existed.
Mr. Boys said he had seen quantities of Moa bones lying on the surface of the ground on the Waipara Plains.
Mr. Hart, on the other hand, stated that in cutting a mill-race in the Riwaka Valley, Nelson, a ship's copper bolt was found four feet below the surface, and at a distance of seven miles from the sea.
The Rev. Mr. Stack stated in reference to the good preservation of Moa bones lying on the surface of the ground, that the Maoris took great care to protect the plains from fire on account of there being their rat-hunting grounds, and he thought that the accumulation of decayed grass would cover and protect the bones from atmospheric influences. Also that Moa is the name given by the natives of the Friendly Islands to birds generally, and that the Cassowary is found in the Samoan group, so that the natives in their few traditions of the Moa might be investing the bones of this bird with the plumage and attributes of the Cassowary. He said that there were still living intelligent old Maoris, learned in traditions reaching back to their immigration. In one tradition of a fight with a Taniwha, they very accurately describe a crocodile or alligator. This tale they must have brought with them, and it is therefore highly improbable that they should have lost all traditions of the Moas, supposing that their ancestors were acquainted with them.
Dr. Haast replied in support of the theories advanced in his paper.