First Meeting. 17th May, 1875.
J. C. Firth, President, in the chair.
New Members.—J. Batger, Captain Daveney, J. Hay, J. Lindsay, C.E., C. C. Macmillan, J. E. Pounds, B. Tonks.
The President delivered the
We commence this evening the eighth session of the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Institute, and it has fallen upon me as President to deliver the usual opening address.
The struggles and exigencies characteristic of colonial life, whilst they may sometimes impart greater vivacity and piquancy to our little communities, often offer great obstacles to the steady progress of Institutes such as ours.
Nevertheless, the progress of the Colony every year gives us more men of wealth, leisure, and cultivated intellect, capable of rendering the pursuit of the various objects of the New Zealand Institute more easy and more successful. But from the energy and enterprise, characteristic of the majority of colonists, combined with the educational advantages which are every day being brought within the reach of all, we may look for valuable assistance from all classes of colonial society in carrying out the really noble objects of the Institute.
For myself, I have only to say that, though I make no pretension to be a man of science, I, nevertheless, take a deep interest in the scientific and social questions of the day, and I claim the right to bring these questions, so far as time and opportunity will permit, to the test of the philosophy of common sense.
From a scientific point of view, the times in which we live are characterised by close, patient, minute and accurate investigation; by daring hypotheses, and by an unmistakeable idolatry of law.
Nothing can be more admirable than the researches of Tyndal and Darwin; but it will hardly be denied that some of their theories manifest a development of the imaginative faculties, which is, at least, remarkable in those who, par excellence, claim to speak only of what they know. Even some of the facts upon which these castles of the imagination are built are as unsubstantial as the theories themselves. A striking instance of this occurs in Darwin's valuable work on the “Descent of Man.” He says,
Vol. I., page 183:—“In all parts of Europe, as far east as Greece; in Palestine, India, Japan, New Zealand, and Africa, including Egypt, flint (stone ?) tools have been discovered in abundance; and of their use the existing inhabitants retain no tradition.” So far as the above statement relates to New Zealand, the learned author is mistaken as to the actual fact. For not only are there traditions of the use of stone tools in New Zealand; but there are now living New Zealanders (Maoris) who have used these stone tools. The earlier settlers of this Colony may even be said to have themselves lived in the stone age.
I shall not occupy your time by citing any further instances of the strange, curious, and indeed, grotesque assumptions which characterise the materialistic school of Philosophy, because, I apprehend, you are probably familiar with them. But, in the interests of science and morals, it is necessary to direct your attention to that singular phase of this revived philosophy, represented—I think better than by any other term—by that of the Idolatry of Law.
Now what is law, at whose shrine some of our philosophers appear to pay an idolatrous devotion? Is it not the opposite of chaos, chance, or accident? Is it not the embodiment of order and design; a regulated and regulating force potent to develope certain results from certain causes known or unknown? Evolution and atomic combination are laws, or the results of law. What, then, I repeat is law? Is it not a definite, intelligent arrangement, involving, by its very existence, the prior existence of an intelligence superior to itself? In a word, does not the existence of a law involve the certain and prior existence and potent action of an intelligent, forceful, dominant Lawgiver? It is the practical ignoring of such a Lawgiver which deprives the admirable investigations of the school of philosophy under review of their chief value and crowning virtue, and which, in so doing, relegates us to the cheerless domains of a materialism as degrading to man as it is inimical to his true welfare. For who can doubt, if it be possible to reason the Creator and Controller of the universe out of the minds of men, that what to-day may be but the fantastic dogma of the philosophic few, may become the popular belief of to-morrow, and so strike at that great principle of responsibility which lies at the foundation of the well-being and the happiness of mankind.
The want of the age is undoubtedly the right interpretation of scientific discovery. Without the acknowledgment of a Supreme Creator and Controller such an interpretation is impossible, and mystery must continue to be written on all the wonderful phenomena by which we are surrounded. What have the so called definitions of the school-men of science given us more than a nomenclature. For, after all, What is the subtle essence of
such forces as gravitation; of such imponderables as light, heat, electricity? We have labelled them, indeed, as a chemist labels his drugs, and we know much of their qualities and uses. But what has been done to define their original elementary essence. What has been done to determine the origin, the whence they sprung of these potent forces which so mysteriously pervade the illimitable unknown.
In truth, scientific deduction as yet has but mounted the lower steps of the ladder of knowledge. A nobler philosophy will yet impel true science to climb upwards till it arrives at the conception of the Creator and Controller of all.
The investigation of truth is one of the main objects of the New Zealand Institute, and it is because I believe it is important to take care that our enquiries should not be biased, nor our intellects blinded by the current materialism of the day, that I have considered it within the scope of my duty to bring under your observation some of the obstacles which are being raised to the impartial pursuit of truth, as they have presented themselves to my own mind.
Permit me now to direct your attention to some of the lines of enquiry along which our investigation may advantageously travel. These may be said to lay in the past as well as in the present.
It has been stated that New Zealand is destitute of a past. I do not concur in this view. We have but to look around us to see, on every side, the memorials of a past full of interest and abounding in sentiment.
Scattered all over the North Island are the ancient fortresses and battle grounds of a noble race. Call it a race of savages, if you will; still a race remarkable for its hospitality, its generosity, and, above all, for its valour. For centuries to come the two great Maori fortresses of One-Tree Hill and Mount Eden in our own vicinity, will stand lasting memorials of the Maori race; and in the eyes of future antiquarians will undoubtedly possess a very deep interest. The Native Land Courts, in the eyes of the present generation of colonists, are chiefly interesting as the means of investigating Maori titles to land, and as the agency for peacefully transferring, by consent of the Maori proprietors, these lands to European owners. But the archives of these Courts recording, as they do, the traditions, the love passages, the warlike deeds of an ancient race, will possess an unfading interest to the future ethnologists, novelists, and historians of this country. The present generation of colonists has advantages for enriching the stores of Maori lore which no other can possess. I think, therefore, that the Colony is under great obligations to Sir George Grey, Mr. C. O. Davis, Judge Maning, and Mr. John White for their admirable efforts to rescue from oblivion the manners, legends, proverbs, and characteristics of this
deeply interesting people. There is yet much to be done, which, to be done well, can only be done now; and I think, to those of our members who have peculiar facilities for the work, there can be few objects more deserving their attention than the preservation of memorials of the Maori.
If any testimony were needed of the patriotism and valour of the Maori race, I have but to point to the long, unequal, and valiant struggle the Maori race has made against us with indifferent arms, without extraneous support, without any chronicle of their achievements—save that furnished by their opponents—maintaining a long struggle against 10,000 of the flower of English troops, and against an equal number of sturdy colonists fighting pro aris et focis, provided with every appliance of modern warfare, and even yet—after a ten years' struggle—still unsubdued. I think we shall find it difficult to parallel, even in Greek or Roman story, their unaided, patriotic, and valiant contest. I am convinced that in each succeeding generation, a truer estimate will be formed of the many noble qualities of this heroic race now departing silently and surely from the land of their fathers.
Let me therefore urge upon you to seize every opportunity to preserve the implements, the fortifications, the sayings, and doings, in a word, the memorials of a people which has done so much to invest the past of the land we live in with a halo of noble and romantic sentiment.
Whilst then we endeavour to rescue whatever is of value in the past, let me remind you that the present demands our attention. Our efforts must be directed to stimulate the pursuit of art, science, literature, commerce, and socíal economics, so that the present of the land of our adoption may do its part in creating, and be worthy of, the great future in store for us and for our descendents.
To this end a close observation of facts, not only by scientific members but by non-scientific members, is indispensible. In this Colony nature presents so much that is new, so much that is difficult, so much that is interesting to ourselves and to the outside world, that we may well prosecute our work with vigour. The Province of Auckland especially offers a field for enquiry which will not only well repay the philosophic enquirer, but will reward the unscientific observer. The neighbourhood of the city abounds with picturesque evidences of powerful volcanic action. Our ferncovered plains, though evidently full of vital energy, do not yield readily to the efforts of the agriculturist—probably from the long continued acid exudations of successive growths of fern root—to turn that energy to the vigorous production of plants and grasses of economic value. Our mountain ranges covered with noble trees, with whose valuable properties we are as yet but partially acquainted, and which indeed we are recklessly
destroying without care or thought for the future. Our hills and valleys rich with mineral deposits such as gold, silver, copper, coal, and iron, frequently occurring under circumstances and in combinations new to science. All these elements of wealth, power, and happiness require new and economic applications of skill and scientific knowledge, so that the greatest practical results may be obtained with the least expenditure of force or waste of power.
Nor must it be forgotten that whilst this Colony possesses a wealth of undeveloped vegetable and mineral productions, it is singularly destitute of animal life, thus offering a wide field for the introduction of innumerable varieties of fish, birds, and animals. Again, the vegetable kingdom, though so full of forms of rarest beauty, is yet destitute of a thousand fruits, vegetables, and trees for which our unrivalled climate offers a congenial home.
Nor must it be forgotten that in the extensive district from Lake Taupo to the Bay of Plenty, there exists a wonderful variety of geysers, boiling springs, hot lakes, fairy-like cascades, enchanting terraces, and mineral waters of great healing powers. I have no doubt that this wondrous district will one day be visited by philosophers, tourists, and invalids from many lands. Can it be doubted that the pilgrims who, in coming years, will visit these shrines of beauty and health will carry away with them very pleasant memories of a land in which they will not have sought in vain for pleasure, health, and knowledge?
That the district in which these natural wonders are to be found ought without delay to be acquired by Government, there can be no doubt; when acquired, our Government may well be urged to follow the example of the United States, and declare the district an inalienable reserve for all time for the health and recreation of the people.
Important as it may be to push on agriculture, to make
“Our valleys wave with golden corn,
With fleecy flocks the hills adorn.”
Necessary as it is to introduce a thousand fruits, vegetables, and trees suitable for our unrivalled climate, we ought not to forget that other things are needed to build up a nation besides sheep and oxen, fruits and corn. Education, good drainage, abundance of pure water, convenient and durable houses, parks for recreation, ready access to the beautiful in art, to the noble in literature, to the grand in nature—all exert a potent and most salutary influence in building up the social life of the people upon a sure foundation.
It is not given to every one to be a Bacon, a Newton, or a Faraday, but it is within the power of all to cultivate habits of observation. Even our children will derive for themselves great advantage, and may confer upon others even greater advantages by learning to observe. Let it be remembered
that to observe accurately and to record correctly the operations of nature, is to contribute to the general stores of knowledge, and to be a benefactor to mankind at large.
In conclusion, we have come to a new land, where we have much to create, to introduce, and to develope, to a land full of hidden resources and full indeed of difficulties, yet we have at least this advantage that we have few of the burdensome excrescences and social anomalies incidental to older countries.
Whilst there is abundant room for the pursuit of abstract truth, for the elucidation of those occult questions which occupy the philosophers of our time, there is yet room and verge enough for the cultivation of patriotic sentiment, of everything that is beautiful in art, useful in science, and noble in literature, and for the widest development of those economic and social problems of a more practical kind, which necessarily come home to the early settlers of a colony like New Zealand.
We have taken hold of the heroic work of colonization, and it is for us to show that we are worthy of the great race to which we belong, and of the grand future in store for us.
1.“On the best Line for the Submarine Cable between Australia and New Zealand,” by the Rev. A. G. Purchas, M.R.C.S.E. (See Transactions, page 166.)
Mr. C. O'Neill, M.H.R., gave some interesting particulars respecting the construction of submarine cables, and stated the terms of the contract proposed to be entered into with the Government of New South Wales. He believed that the position of the termini had not been settled.
Messrs. Pond, Morton, and Power also spoke on the subject.
The President suggested that a copy of the paper should be forwarded to the Commissioner of Telegraphs, as it contained information that might prove of considerable service to the Government.
2.“On the Coleoptera of Auckland,” by Captain T. Brown. (See Transactions, page 262.) The author reviewed the principal divisions of the class Coleoptera, represented in the Province of Auckland, giving the names and other particulars of the more prominent species.
The President was glad to find that the entomology of New Zealand, so long neglected, was now receiving elucidation at the hands of several competent observers. Although not possessing any scientific acquaintance with the subject, he had observed a considerable number of species that were highly injurious to the agriculturist, and thought that a series of observations should be made with the view of ascertaining their habits, and of determining how their rapid multiplication could be prevented. He alluded
to the serious nature of the ravages of the Colorado beetle (Doryphora decem-lineata) in the United States during the past few years, and to the still greater damage caused by the Phylloxera in the vine-growing districts of France. Had we possessed a full acquaintance with these insects at the outset of their destructive career, it is probable that much of the subsequent loss and ruin would have been avoided.
The Rev. Dr. Purchas said that several insects were being gradually introduced that would ultimately prove very undesirable colonists. For instance, a wood-borer—the name of which he was not acquainted with—was a most pernicious species, perforating the wooden lining of houses until it crumbled into a mass of dust. He had also seen furniture attacked by it.
Second Meeting. 14th June, 1875.
J. C. Firth, President, in the chair.
The Secretary read the list of donations to the Library and Museum during the last month.
1.“On the Mollusca of Auckland Harbour,” by T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S. (See Transactions, page 304.)
The President directed attention to the collection of shells formed by the author to illustrate his paper, and which was now exhibited. It was a matter of surprise to him to find so many different kinds inhabiting so small an area.
2.“Notes on the recent observations for the Transit of Venus,” by T. Heale.
3.“Notes on the Mason Bee,” by Major W. G. Mair.
The President said that members would doubtless like to know what had been done by the Council towards the erection of a new Museum. It would be remembered that a subscription list was opened at the Annual Meeting, and most liberally headed by two donations of £500 each. Since then, further application had been made to the members, and the subscription list had been raised to £1,700, and, from verbal promises that had been made, he had no doubt would ultimately reach over £2,000. The Council had caused plans of a suitable building to be prepared; the cost of which was estimated at £3,100. It would thus be seen that a sum of about £1000 would be required over what would be realised by subscriptions. He felt sure that this amount would have been given by the Provincial Government, had its financial position allowed it; but, as nothing could be expected from this quarter at present, the Council proposed to introduce a short Bill into the General Assembly, authorising them to mortgage a portion, or the whole, if necessary, of their site. The erection of the building would be commenced immediately upon the passing of the Bill.
Third Meeting. 16th August, 1875.
T. Heale in the chair.
New Members.—J. T. Boylan, F. D. Fenton, P. Herapath, D. M'Indoe, W. W. Taylor.
The Chairman drew the attention of the meeting to the valuable library bequeathed to the Institute by the late Mr. G. F. Edmonstone, consisting of 550 volumes, mostly relating to various branches of physical science. Mr. Edmonstone had not long been a member of the Institute, and his thoughtful consideration for them should not be easily forgotten.
1. “Notice of the discovery of Moa Remains at Ellerslie, near Auckland,” by T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S.
Mr. Cheeseman remarked that he had visited the cave at Ellerslie, and had explored it carefully, and gave a description of its position and size, the whole length of the two unequal compartments into which it was divided being 98 feet, and its height in no place exceeding eight feet, the floor being composed of basaltic lava. The Moa bones, all more or less decayed, were found only in the smaller compartment, and that, prior to this discovery, he was not aware of any Moa bones having been found or known to exist north of Raglan and the Upper Waikato.
The author stated that some time ago Dr. Alder Fisher informed him that he had seen Moa bones in a small cave near the Ellerslie race-course, and at his request he had made an exploration of the cave in question. A considerable number of Moa bones were obtained, but in such a bad state of preservation as to be useless for scientific purposes. Hardly any perfect examples were seen. Human bones were found in the same cave, and a considerable number in an adjacent one, but were evidently much more recent than those of the Moa.
Mr. H. A. H. Monro said that it was surprising to him to hear it stated that the Maoris knew nothing of the Moa. Not only was there the evidence of the numerous derivative words in their language, but they had distinct traditions of it, and could relate how their forefathers attacked and captured it, and how the Moa defended itself. In fact, it appeared to him that there was an overwhelming amount of evidence in favour of the supposition that the Moa had been exterminated by the Maori at a not very distant period of time.
2.“Notes on the Sword Fish, Ziphias gladius,” by T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S. (See Transactions, page 219.)
Various portions of the skeleton, both of this species and of the allied Histiophorus herschelli, were exhibited from the Museum collections.
3.“Remarks on the Pselaphidœ of New Zealand,” by Captain T. Brown. (See Transactions, page 271.)
This paper contained an enumeration of the Pselaphidœ hitherto found in New Zealand, together with some cursory remarks, and also enclosed detailed descriptions of the various species by Dr. Sharp of Dumfries.
Fourth Meeting. 13th September, 1875.
Rev. A. G. Purchas, M.R.C.S.E., in the chair.
The Secretary read the list of donations to the Library and Museum since the last meeting.
1.“Notes on Quartz Crushing at the Thames,” by J. Goodall, C.E. (See Transactions, page 176.)
This paper gave rise to an animated discussion, in which several members took part.
2.“A Sketch of Polynesia,” by J. Adams, B.A.
The Chairman congratulated the meeting on the commencement of work on the new Museum Buildings, after which the meeting separated.
Fifth Meeting. 11th October, 1875.
J. C. Firth, President, in the chair.
New Members.—Ven. Archd. E. B. Clarke, W. S. Young.
Mr. Goodall offered some remarks supplementary to his paper on “Quartz Crushing at the Thames,” read at last meeting. He considered that the machinery in use was excellent, and that the improvement needed was in the mode of treating the ore.
Mr. Stewart said that, in his opinion, the machinery was far from being good, and indicated several directions in which improvements might be made.
1.“The Coals and Coal Fields of the Province of Auckland,” by J. M. Tunny, Provincial Analyist. (See Transactions, page 387.)
Mr. Goodall said that this paper was a most important one, and well deserved consideration at the hands of the Institute. He was sorry that Mr. Tunny had not mentioned the specific gravity of each of the samples of coal analysed by him, for there were properties apart from its chemical composition that affected the heating qualities of coal.
Mr. Stewart said the opinions commonly entertained as to the relative advantages of Newcastle and Bay of Islands coal were clearly erroneous. In many respects the Bay coal was the best of the two; nor was it the only good coal in the Province. The Waikato coal had now been used for many years for steaming purposes, and had been found to answer well. He was convinced that our present mines, under proper management, would, in a few years, banish all foreign coal.
The President said that, from his own experience as a coal consumer—perhaps one of the largest in Auckland—he was satisfied that the Bay coal was far superior to Newcastle for steam purposes. The principal objection to its use for domestic purposes was in its friable nature; but this had been made too much of. He would like to see the Whareora coal—so highly recommended by Mr. Tunny—introduced in quantity into the Auckland market.
2.“Analyses of a few of the Auckland Fire Clays,” by J. A. Pond. (See Transactions, page 348.)
Samples of the clays mentioned in this paper, together with several articles manufactured from them, were exhibited to the meeting.
3.“Descriptions of a new species of Hymenophyllum,” by T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S. (See Transactions, page 330.)
Mr. Goodall called the attention of the meeting to the practice of slaking lime with salt water, now becoming very prevalent in Auckland. It was hardly necessary for him to state that, so long as this custom was in force, dry walls could not be expected in any buildings, however carefully other points were attended to.
Mr. Heale said that it was usual to attribute the efflorescence, so commonly seen on plastered walls in Auckland during damp weather, either to the use of shell-lime, in which a small proportion of salt might naturally be expected to occur, or to the sea-sand used in the preparation of the mortar. He could not but think that the proportion of salt in shell-lime would be very minute; and sea sand, even if taken wet from the beach, could not contain more than five per cent, of sea water. On the other hand, lime, during the process of slaking, would take up fully twenty-five per cent. of sea water, and in this way a very considerable quantity of salt would be introduced into the mortar; so large, in fact, that he should not have supposed that lime-burners would have had resort to a practice so obviously injurious to the quality of the lime if he had not himself seen salt water used.
Sixth Meeting. 6th December, 1875.
J. C. Firth, President, in the chair.
New Members.—W. Carder, A. Howden, G. Kitchen, R. Walker.
1.“Notes on the discovery of Moa and Moa-hunters' remains near Whangarei,” by G. Thorne, jun. (See Transactions, page 83.)
Mr. Firth asked if the human remains found were contemporaneous with those of the Moa.
Mr. Thorne exhibited some charred human bones that he considered to be certainly of the same age. With respect to the other human remains,
he had not the same confidence, as it was possible that they had become mixed with the Moa bones through the blowing away of a stratum of sand in which they had been buried, and which stratum might be of long subsequent age to the period of the formation of the kitchen middens amongst which the Moa remains were found.
2.“On the evidences of recent changes in the elevation of the Waikato district,” by J. Stewart, C.E.
The President said that the course of the Waikato was full of interesting problems from its exit from Lake Taupo to its entrance into the sea. One curious feature was that, instead of running along the valleys, as was usual with rivers, it crossed the mountain ranges at right angles, thus forming deep gorges, of which that at Taupiri was a good example.
Dr. Purchas said that no doubt the Waikato ran into the Thames or Piako before the gorge at Taupiri was removed, and allowed the river to find its way into the Middle Waikato Basin.
3.“Notes on the Introduction and Acclimatization of the Salmon,” by James Stewart, C.E. (See Transactions, page 205.)
Annual General Meeting. 21st February, 1876.
J. C. Firth, President, in the chair.
New Members.—J. Taylor, Rev. Dr. Wallis.
The list of donations to the Library and Museum during the last two months was read by the Secretary.
The Annual Report and Financial Statement was then read by the Secretary, when it was resolved, on the motion of Mr. Firth, seconded by Mr. Goodall, “that the report, as read, be adopted, and printed for circulation among the members.”
Election of Officers for 1876:—President, His Honor Mr. Justice Gillies; Council, R. C. Barstow, J. L. Campbell, M.D., J. C. Firth, J. Goodall, C.E., Hon. Col. Haultain, T. Heale, Rev. J. Kinder, D.D., G. M. Mitford, Rev. A. G. Purchas, M.R.C.S.E., J. Stewart, C.E., F. Whitaker; Secretary and Treasurer, T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S.; Auditor, T. Macffarlane.
A vote of thanks to the retiring President concluded the business.