Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 5, 1872
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Tauakira, known to sailors as “The Devil's Thumb,” is an important

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land-mark, rising several hundred feet higher than any other point along the northern side of Cook Strait, and when brought in line with the great snowy mountain, Ruapehu, shows the entrance to the Wanganui River.

No one had succeeded in reaching the summit till last March, when the writer and some others ascended the Wanganui River, and after some difficulty gained the top of the mountain, whence very extensive views of the surrounding country were obtained. The author states that “Dr. Hochstetter was mistaken in assuming, from its appearance when viewed from a distance, that Tauakira is of volcanic origin. It is simply a culminating peak of the recent white clay formation. Two large slips which have recently occurred on its northern face have exposed the substratum, from the hill-top right down to the Operiki gully, a depth of fully a thousand feet, and nothing but the white clay is visible anywhere along it. The crest of the hill, like that of nearly all the others of the same formation, is very narrow, and has its northern face precipitous, while sloping gently towards the south.

“The party had with them no means of measuring the height of the hill, but by vertical angle from the town of Wanganui it appears to be about 2,400 feet, and this agrees so nearly with the comparative heights, 1,883 feet and 1,890 feet, assigned to Taupiri, that there is little doubt as to its being almost if not quite correct. The bearings from Tauakira confirmed the accuracy of others which had been previously taken, and proved conclusively that Ranana, which is always reckoned 60 miles from the town of Wanganui by the river, is actually only 21¼ miles in a straight line from the Wanganui Heads.”

Among the exhibits on the table was a collection of stone weapons found on the south bank of the Teremakau by Judge Harvey. Besides green-stone and horn-stone adzes, there was a large mass of chert for making cutting flakes.

Some bones recently obtained by the Hon. Captain Fraser in the same cave in Otago where the Moa's neck was obtained, were shown.*

The President stated that some of these bones, which are very fresh, belonged to the Cnemiornis, and with those is a humerus or wing bone of large size, which differs from the wing bone of that bird, as described by Professor Owen, in possessing a pneumatic foramen, which is generally considered to indicate a bird of flight. There are also the bones of a very large weka, which must have been equal in size to the large kiwi, and the bones of paradise ducks. Dr. Hector hoped that the remarkable deposit in this cave would soon be carefully explored.

A sample of sheeting made from New Zealand flax (Phormium) forwarded by Dr. Featherston was exhibited. Also portions that had been tested for strength and lasting power with soap and bleaching powder by Mr. Skey, and found to wear well.

[Footnote] *Vide ante, p. 102.

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At the close of the meeting Mr. T. Kelly, M.H.R., exhibited and explained to a number of the members interested in such matters a full-sized model of a new flax-dressing machine. The novelties in the construction were highly approved by those competent to judge of such matters.