Report by Manager.
Museum.—The collections in the Museum have been increased during the past year by the addition of 2,169 specimens.
Birds.—The collection of New Zealand birds is now tolerably complete, and has been arranged in a suitable cabinet for reference, there being only a few of the specimens set up for exhibition.
Very extensive collections of birds from various parts of the world have now accumulated, which it has been found necessary to place in drawers and packing cases, so that at the present time they are inaccessible to the public, and inconveniently difficult of access for reference.
The most extensive recent addition to the collections in this department has been that purchased from Mr. H. Travers, which consists of thirty-seven species and 192 specimens from the Chatham Islands, some of which are new to science or extremely rare.
A collection of seventy birds of California has also been presented by the Academy of Natural Science in San Francisco; 114 birds' skins from Norway, presented by Mr. J. Graff; forty-one European birds' skins, forwarded by Dr. Buller; and fifty-seven specimens of birds are on their way from Germany, having been sent in exchange by Dr. O. Finsch.
The New Zealand birds' eggs have been mounted for exhibition, and the collection has been enriched by the donation of fifty-six specimens of the eggs of British birds, by Mr. T. H. Potts.
The illustrated work on New Zealand birds, by Dr. Buller, referred to in last year's report, is advancing through the press, the first two, out of the five parts of which it consists, having reached the Colony, and the remainder of the work is, I am informed by the author, already in the printer's hands.*
The Catalogue of the Birds, with the diagnoses of the species, by Captain Hutton, also referred to in last report, was issued in October last.†
Fishes.—A collection of forty-six stuffed specimens, and forty-one skeletons of the fishes of New Zealand, and ninty-two species preserved in spirits, has been prepared and arranged for exhibition, to illustrate this important branch of the Natural History of the country.
The number of fishes now known to belong to New Zealand is 147 species, of which only about fifteen are not represented in the above collection.
The distinctive characters of the species have been given by Captain Hutton, together with notes on the edible species by myself, in a work issued from this department in May last.‡
I should also mention the valuable Osteological preparations which have been made for the Museum by Dr. Knox, among which the following are the most important:—Skeletons of a Moriori (female), the Sea Leopard,
[Footnote] * “Birds of New Zealand,” by W. L. Buller, Sc.D., 4to., with coloured plates of all the species peculiar to the Islands.—Van Vorst, London.
[Footnote] † “Catalogue of the Birds of New Zealand,” by Captain Hutton, F.G.S., Assistant Geologist, 8vo., 85 pp.
[Footnote] ‡ “Fishes of New Zealand,” Catalogue by Captain F. W. Hutton, F.G.S., Assistant Geologist, and Notes on the Edible Fishes, by Dr. Hector, Director, with 12 plates, 8vo., 135 pp.
(Stenorhyncus leptonyx), thirty birds, fifty fishes, twenty reptiles, etc., constituting a most interesting feature in the Museum.
Shells.—The collections of New Zealand shells, both recent and fossil, have been thoroughly investigated by Captain Hutton, the greater part of whose time during the past year has been devoted to this important work, and he has prepared a descriptive catalogue, which only awaits the receipt of a list of the New Zealand shells in the European collections, which is being prepared by Dr. Von Martens, of Berlin, to be completed for the press.
The total number of existing species of the class Mollusca, represented in the Museum, and described in this catalogue, will be 560; to which must be added 200 species of fossil shells that are now extinct.
Captain Hutton has also prepared a descriptive catalogue of the New Zealand Echinodermata in the Museum, in which he enumerates thirty-six species.
The collection of foreign shells has been added to, during the past year, by 170 American species, presented by Colonel Jewett, of New York, and other collections of minor importance.
Insects.—An arrangement is being made for the publication in England of descriptive and illustrated catalogues of the different classes of insects which are found in New Zealand, as their classification cannot be satisfactorily effected without reference to extensive Museums and Libraries containing works of reference in Natural History. The foreign collections in the Museum have received a valuable addition in a named collection of 332 specimens of the Lepidoptera and Coleoptera of Queensland, from W. H. Miskin, Esq.
Palœontology.—The descriptive and illustrated catalogue of the New Zealand fossils in the Museum is also in an advanced state of preparation; but further examination of certain localities will be necessary before it can be sent to press. The collection of minerals, rocks, and fossils, has been largely extended during the past year, in the course of the Geological Survey; the chief additions being the collections made in Canterbury by Dr. Haast, and Mr. H. Travers in the Chatham Islands and at the Amuri, where he obtained a large number of Saurian bones, in blocks that weigh several hundredweight, but unfortunately in a very hard matrix, so that it is doubtful if they can be extracted in a perfect state.
The chief special collections which have been added to the Herbarium during the past year, besides the plants of the neighborhood, which are constantly being collected by Mr. Buchanan, are specimens illustrating the botany of the Hot Lake and North Taupo Districts, which have been reported on for the Department by Mr. T. Kirk, F.L.S.
An almost exhaustive collection of the botany of the Chatham Islands has
been obtained by Mr. H. Travers, ten sets of which will be available for exchange as soon as they have been reported on by Baron Von Müeller, to whom a complete series has been sent in duplicate for this purpose. The only foreign collections of dried plants received during the past year, have been of Sandwich Island plants, from Dr. Hildebrand, and a collection of British Algœ, prepared and presented by Mrs. J. E. Grey.
The Herbarium now contains, in addition to the Colonial Flora, a very complete set of British flowering plants and ferns, also ferns of New Hebrides, Sandwich Islands, and Fijis.
The chief desiderata necessary to make the Herbarium sufficiently complete for the New Zealand student, are the plants of Eastern Australia and Tasmania.
For convenience of reference, a complete set of New Zealand and British plants is being mounted in books and placed in the library.
Laboratory.—Analyses have been performed during the year by Mr. Skey, to the number of 285, making a total of 1,203 analyses entered in the Laboratory books.
In addition to the analyses of minerals and ores of various kinds, a very large portion of the Analyst's time is occupied with examinations of samples submitted by the Secretary of Customs, under the Distillation and Gold Duty Acts; and the responsibility of the verification of standards, required under the Weights and Measures Act, is also performed for the Colony in connection with this department.
During the past year, sixty lithographic plates have been prepared to illustrate the various publications issued by the department; and about thirty-three original drawings made of objects of natural history and fossils, with a view to future publication.
A general geological map of the Colony, on a scale of twelve miles to the inch, is also in progress.
The small-scale geological map, referred to in last year's report, has now been printed off and distributed, 150 copies having been sent to Professor Owen, at his request, for incorporation with a work which he is publishing on the Extinct Struthious Birds of New Zealand.
The Geological Survey field work has been chiefly directed during the past season to the development of the coal deposits, in accordance with the Public Works Act; the examination of the coal fields on the West Coast of Nelson having been undertaken by myself; those in the Southland District and in the North of Auckland by Captain Hutton; while the coal deposits on the eastern side of the South Island, in Canterbury and Otago, have been examined by Dr. Haast. The chief practical results of the surveys have been published through the Public Works Department, but the extensive additions
they have made to the general geological survey of the Colony will be found in the various reports issued from the department for the current year.
Observatories.—The Meteorological Department, and the Astronomical Observatory, for regulating the mean time for the Colony, both of which are under my direction, are in an efficient condition, the statistical information being published regularly, and exchanged with the chief Observatories in other parts of the world.