Wellington Philosophical Society.
First Meeting. 29th July, 1876.
Dr. W. L. Buller, C.M.G., President, in the chair.
New Members.—Captain Campbell Walker, F.R.G.S., H. M. Brewer, of Wanganui.
“An Attempt at an Explanation of the Origin of Mineral Veins, particularly those of Gold and Silver,” by J. C. Crawford, F.G.S. (Transactions, p. 560.)
Discussion postponed owing to the absence of the author.
The Hon. Mr. Mantell read a description of the New Zealand Court at the Philadelphia Exhibition, written by Dr. Hector, and also several passages from letters received from that gentleman regarding the Exhibition generally.
“On the Occurrence of the Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia) in New Zealand,” by Dr. W. L. Buller, C.M.G., President. (Transactions, p. 337.)
“Notes on Panax lineare, Hook. f.,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 492.)
“On the Durability of Matai Timber,” by John Buchanan, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 182.)
Mr. Kirk thought that the author had committed an error as to the age of the specimen described, as he considered that, in the case of New Zealand trees, more than one ring is formed annually.
The Hon. Mr. G. R. Johnson thought that there must be two species of the Matai in New Zealand, as he had known some posts of that wood last much longer than others; perhaps it was due to the sex of the timber.
Mr. Kirk said that only one species of Matai was known to botanists; the difference might, as was suggested, be due to sexual characters.
The author defended his views as to the age of the specimen in question, the growth of the rings of the Matai being very uniform, and not in bundles.
6. “Notes on the Tuatara Lizard (Sphenodon punctatum), with a Description of a supposed New Species,” by Dr. Buller, C.M.G., President. (Transactions, p. 317.)
Live specimens were exhibited.
The Hon. Mr. Mantell stated that in the Colonial Museum there were some specimens of the eggs of this singular reptile.
Dr. Newman gave some interesting information regarding the anatomy of lizards generally, and especially of the Tuatara; he also expressed his views on the remarkable manner in which the tail is reproduced in this and many other lizards, when accidentally broken off.
The President expressed a hope that Dr. Newman would dissect one of the Museum specimens.
7. “On the Root-stock of Marattia fraxinea, Smith,” by John Buchanan, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 527.)
The author illustrated his paper with sketches.
8. Mr. R. B. Gore described the Earthquake recently felt throughout the central portions of the colony between Taupo and Christchurch.
9. A photograph of Dinornis elephantopus, in the Dunedin Museum, which had been forwarded by Captain Hutton, was laid on the table.
Second Meeting. 2nd September, 1876.
Dr. W. L. Buller, C.M.G., President, in the chair.
New Member.—Colonel Leckie.
“On the Botany of Kawau Island: Physical Features and Causes influencing Distribution of Species,” by John Buchanan, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 503.)
Mr. Kirk spoke in terms of praise of this paper, but did not agree with the author as to the number of species. He thought Mr. Buchanan's estimate was too small, and that he had not dwelt sufficiently on the distinguishing features of the indigenous flora of the island.
“Notes on the Lake District of the Province of Auckland,” by W. T. L. Travers. (Transactions, p. 3.)
The author exhibited photographs of the localities referred to.
The President and the Hon. Mr. Mantell complimented the author on his paper.
Mr. Carruthers suggested the desirability of establishing a Physical Observatory in the centre of this interesting district.
The President noticed a new form of Green Lizard (Naultinus), brought from Nelson by Mr. A. Atkinson, which he promised to describe at the next meeting.
The Hon. Mr. Mantell exhibited some ripe Blackberries, grown in his garden in Wellington, as a curiosity at this season.
Third Meeting. 16th September, 1876.
Dr. Buller, C.M.G., President, in the chair.
New Member.—J. H. Wallace.
1. “On Gnaphalium (Helichrysum) fasciculatum, sp. nov.,” by John Buchanan, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 529.)
2. “Revised Descriptions of two Species of New Zealand Panax,” by John Buchanan, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 529.)
3. “On a few of the Grasses and other Herbage Plants that might be advantageously introduced into Cultivation in New Zealand,” by S. M. Curl, M.D. (Transactions, p. 531.)
Read for the author by the Hon. Mr. Mantell, and discussion postponed until next meeting.
4. “On probable Reasons why few Fossils are found in the Upper Palæozoic and possible Triassic Rocks of New Zealand,” by J. C. Crawford, F.G.S. (Transactions, p. 561.)
Dr. Hector thought that the author might have overlooked the existence of lower mesozoic rocks in the localities named. During his absence from New Zealand, both Mr. Cox and Mr. McKay had found fossils in this formation. He rather thought that the formation in question would be placed under the head of Permio-carboniferous. He was inclined to think that the absence of fossils from the Tararua ranges was due more to the fact that they had not yet been properly searched for.
Mr. Cox agreed with Dr. Hector's remarks.
Mr. Crawford was glad that his paper had drawn forth such a clear statement regarding the existence of these fossils.
5. “Description of a New Species of Rumex,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 493.)
6. “On the Ornithology of New Zealand,” by Dr. W. L. Buller, C.M.G., President. (Transactions, p. 327.)
Mr. Travers agreed with the author as to the undesirability of destroying the Harrier, which he considered a useful bird to the agriculturist. He had found that this bird subsisted almost entirely on rats, locusts, mice, and lizards. He could also confirm what had been said of the increase of Ocydromus earli.
The President, in replying, drew attention to the mistaken zeal of Acclimatisation Societies in hunting down some of the indigenous birds.
Account of Travels in Europe and America
7. At the invitation of the President, Dr. Hector then gave a short account of his travels in Europe and America since he left New Zealand.
Dr. Hector thanked the President for the kind terms in which he had welcomed him back to the Society, and said he was not prepared on such short notice to say much. He would first express his deep obligation to the Hon. Mr. Mantell, who, during his protracted absence from the colony, had voluntarily carried on the work of his department, accepting the whole of the responsibility, and performing duties of a multifarious and very laborious kind. He next called attention to the numerous exhibits on the table, for the bulk of which he was indebted to the liberality of Captain Dow, F.Z.S., of the “City of Sydney;” also, to a magnificent Orchid (Dendrobium tokai), standing two feet high, and in full flower, which was also the gift of Captain Dow. This plant was particularly interesting, from the circumstance that the New Zealand flora contains a very diminutive representative of the genus. He pointed also to skins of several remarkable birds from the Farallone Islands, together with a fine series of the eggs of one species, which exhibited a marvellous variety of character, some being creamy white, others green or blue, and others brown. He mentioned that 18,000 dozen of these eggs are annually taken to the San Francisco market, where they are sold for 18d. a dozen. It is computed that 100,000 of these birds breed every season on the islands. He exhibited
also a specimen of the Tropical Booby (Sula fusca), which was captured one day on the yard-arm of the ship, and forthwith sacrificed to science; also, the head of a Leather Turtle (Spharcis coriacea), the carcass of which must have weighed not less than one-third of a ton. After a passing reference to a beautiful white land shell (a species of Bulimus) from the Solomon Islands, and a remarkable Water-Snake (Pelamys), which exhibited the peculiar characteristic of a vertically flattened tail for the purpose of aiding its progression through the water; he pointed to a collection of Birds from Vancouver's Island and North California, which he had been fortunate to obtain for the Museum. There were also some other American Birds. He intended to hand all these over to Dr. Buller for examination and identification, and would therefore only refer now to one of them—a very beautifully-coloured Woodpecker (Colaptes mexicanus), which possessed a spiny-shafted tail expressly adapted to the climbing habits of the bird. In fact, it held on by its legs and tail while hammering at the tree with its powerful beak in search of its food. In addition to these things, he had brought a fine collection of shells from California, which would be valuable for comparison with our own molluscous fauna. Dr. Hector then proceeded to give an account of his recent trip to England, and of its results from a scientific point of view. He had succeeded in making some valuable exchanges with the British Museum. Only part of the collections so obtained had reached the Colony, but there were twelve or fourteen large cases now on their way out. The Fossils taken home by him had been cursorily studied and classified by Professor Etheridge, who was permitted by Professor Ramsay, of the School of Mines, to devote a considerable amount of time to this work. The results would be very valuable, as placing the researches of the Geological Survey, in this respect, on a thoroughly sound and reliable basis. In the next place, he had visited all the Museums where he could obtain material for ethnological investigation, as he considered that this would be very interesting as bearing on the question of the origin of the Maori race. He had endeavoured to interest ethnologists at home in this question, and the first practical outcome had been the valuable treatise by Mr. Vaux, which appeared in last year's volume of “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute.” Among a number of things lent to him by the authorities of the British Museum for examination, he had opened a closed glass case, supposed to contain articles brought home by Captain Cook after one of his voyages to New Zealand, and subsequently handed over to the Museum by the Admiralty. This case contained Native weapons and carvings; but the most interesting of these was a Taiaha, with a bunch of feathers at the top, which he detected to be Moa feathers. This specimen was afterwards submitted to Mr. Sharpe, Professor Newton, and other ornithologists, all of whom pronounced it the feather of a struthious bird, more allied in character to the Ostrich than the Emu, There was also a common pawa shell fish-hook, with an iron barb, to which were attached some feathers with a distinct afterplume—a character not possessed by any New Zealand struthious bird now existing. The evidence thus obtained he considered very valuable, as showing that the Moa existed down to the period when these modern implements were in use by the Maoris. In addition to ransacking Museums for everything of New Zealand interest, he had attended the various meetings of learned Societies, and the annual gathering of the British Association, where he had done all in his power to promote a feeling of interest in the Colony, and to make known its great natural resources. Just as he was preparing to leave England, he received instructions from the Government to visit America, for the purpose of representing the Colony at the Philadelphia Exhibition. He characterized this as the most wonderful industrial collection that the world had ever seen, occupying in space an area about equal to Hyde Park, and embracing exhibits in such number and
variety that it would take months even to get a cursory glance at them. The Agricultural Hall alone was a sight which would attract visitors from all parts of the globe, and was a perfect marvel of what could be accomplished in the way of National Exhibitions. The lecturer concluded with a somewhat detailed account of the New Zealand Court, which occupied a space about equal to the lecture-hall in which the meeting was being held, although somewhat narrower, and held a very creditable position in the group of Colonies represented at the Exhibition. He mentioned the objects which appeared to attract most attention, and referred particularly to the exhibition of Feather Furs by Mr. Liardet, a magnificent series of Photographs by Mr. Deveril, Messrs. Burton Bros., and others, and a fine collection of Maori exhibits forwarded by Mr. Richard Woon, R.M., of Wanganui.
On the motion of the President, a cordial vote of thanks was then passed to Dr. Hector for his address.
Fourth Meeting. 30th September, 1876.
C. C. Graham, Vice-president, in the chair.
New Member.—William Hutchison.
The Chairman called attention to the addition of about 400 valuable works of reference to the Society's library, through purchases made for the Council by Dr. Hector. He also announced that the Council had resolved to proceed with the binding of the books, and to issue a printed catalogue.
Discussion on Dr. Curl's Paper on Grasses and Herbage Plants
1. The discussion on Dr. Curl's paper, “On a few of the Grasses and other Herbage Plants that might be advantageously introduced into Cultivation in New Zealand,” which was read at the last meeting, was then proceeded with.
Mr. Kirk said that, while fully agreeing with the author's opinion respecting the majority of the grasses mentioned by him, he differed with regard to a few, and thought that Dr. Curl had not sufficiently discriminated between those species of value for general pasture and those adapted for forage or for special purposes. After mentioning several species, he stated that Alfalfa was simply the Spanish name for Lucerne, of which superior varieties were now in cultivation. Seed of one of these, of remarkably quick growth, had been distributed from the Colonial Museum, and had been fit for use within six weeks from the time of sowing. He trusted that Dr. Curl's paper would be the precursor of many similar ones on the quality of grasses subjected to experiment by settlers.
Dr. Hector said that the Alfalfa referred to had been obtained from California. At Salt Lake City, by irrigation, they obtained as many as eight crops of this grass in the season. It was used only as forage.
Mr. Crawford considered that the Doab and Buffalo grasses mentioned by Dr. Curl did not succeed well except in the north of New Zealand, as the southern climate was too cold for them.
2. “On a Colonial Standard Survey,” by J. T. Thomson, F.R.G.S., Surveyor-General of New Zealand. (Transactions, p. 96.)
Discussion on Dr. Newman's Paper on Physiological Changes in the English Race in New Zealand
3. “Speculations on the Physiological Changes obtaining in the English Race when transplanted to New Zealand,” by A. K. Newman, M.B. (Transactions, p. 37.)
The author argued that, from the lesser atmospheric pressure in these southern latitudes, and the want of phosphates, vital functions were more active, but less perfectly performed, and that the result was that the offspring of Europeans reared in Australia and New Zealand were physically and mentally inferior to those born in England.
Mr. Crawford: “How about Trickett?”
Dr. Newman said that Trickett was an exception; and one might just as well say, if it were pointed out that Chinamen were not tall, how about Chang?
Mr. Carruthers said he would like to see some statistics in support of the statement, and doubted if they would bear out the author's deductions.
Dr. Hector said that it was quite a novelty to have such a sweeping attack made on the climate of New Zealand, and thought that general experience was opposed to the author's views. He considered the paper valuable, as it called attention to many things, which he believed, however, to be due to causes that might be remedied, and not to those attributed to them by the author.
Mr. Andrew said, that if the author was right in his statement, that there was a deficiency of phosphates in our food, he was glad that he had suggested as a remedy a large consumption of oysters.
The Hon. Mr. Mantell said he was sure that there were many members who would like to discuss the subject more fully, and he would move that the subject be adjourned till next meeting, which was agreed to.
4. The Chairman called attention to a communication from the Hon. Mr. Waterhouse relative to certain specimens of Timber, proving the protective influence of charring against the ravages of the Teredo.
5. “Notes on the Valley System on the Western Flanks of Mount Cook,” by S. Herbert Cox, F.C.S., F.G.S. (Transactions, p. 577.)
The author gave an account of explorations made by himself and Mr. McKay while engaged in the geological survey of the district.
Dr. Hector said that this was the first recorded attempt to ascend the Mount Cook range from the west, but he understood from the author that he had not discovered any practicable route to the peak.
6. The Chairman, before adjourning the meeting, announced that three papers required to be held over. He called attention to the large series of Photographs arranged in the Hall, which had been brought by Dr. Hector from America to illustrate the scenery of the Yellow-stone Hot Lakes and the Nevada Mines.
Fifth Meeting. 14th October, 1876.
Dr. Hector, C.M.G., F.R.S., in the chair.
New Members.—Arthur S. Collins, of Nelson, F. H. Tronson.
1. Discussion on Dr. Newman's paper “On Speculations on the Physiological Changes obtaining in the English Race when transplanted to New Zealand,” read at last meeting, was continued.
Mr. W. T. L. Travers said that he did not at all agree with the author's views. He thought that Dr. Newman did not sufficiently appreciate the slightness in the difference of atmospheric pressure in New Zealand and elsewhere. According to Proctor, the pressure at 30°, 40°, and 47° South Latitude, corresponded very nearly with that at
Auckland, Wellington, and Foveaux Strait. It was not to be supposed that the difference of a few feet in altitude could influence the development of the body to the extent pointed out by Dr. Newman. When one knows to what privations and hardships explorers miners and others are often exposed in this country, and what endurance they show, it can hardly be said that there is any deficiency of vigour in New Zealand. Animals thrive well here on what they could scarcely live on in England. Vegetable life also flourishes; and there is nothing to indicate the absence of phosphates. If there was such a want, it was to be regretted more in an agricultural point of view, not, he thought, as regards mental development. The author should have produced facts in support of such sweeping statements.
Captain G. Mair said that, having been born in New Zealand, and having been actively engaged in company with other New Zealanders, he could speak from experience on the subject, and he did not agree with the author. But to make a sound inference, he thought it better to quote the aboriginal inhabitants, who, as a race, have been longer exposed to the influences of the climate, and who subsisted on very insufficient and defective food as compared with the Europeans; yet among them the average height and weight is quite equal to that of English-born persons, and the extremes are quite as great. He had seen one Native measuring 6 feet 6 inches in height, and 67 inches round the chest. The children and grand-children were, so far as his experience went, as fine, mentally and physically, as their ancestors. With regard to the healthiness of New Zealand, he could refer to the carefully-prepared army statistics, which showed that in every 1,000 men in England, 46 are in Hospital, but only 22 in New Zealand out of the same number. In the course of further interesting remarks, Captain Mair mentioned the occurrence of goâtre, or “Derbyshire neck,” among the Urewera tribe.
Mr. Carruthers said that, from experience in public works, he could compare the work done by the New Zealand navvy with that done in England by similar men, and he found that the former did 30 per cent. more work than the latter, which was certainly opposed to the author's theory.
Mr. J. Young considered it unfair to put New Zealand on its trial at the present time, as it was a very young Colony. He said that, if we go to older Colonies, we find from experience facts quite the opposite to those mentioned by Dr. Newman. He referred to Mr. Hull's papers on the vital statistics of Tasmania, where the climate is similar to that of New Zealand. Mentally, the boys in Tasmania are quite equal to any boys in the world. They hold their own against all comers. They are also quite equal physically. No whaling captain will engage Europeans for his crew when he can get native-born men, as the latter, they assert, have greater endurance. After considerable colonial experience, he had arrived at very different conclusions on the subject from those of Dr. Newman.
Dr. Newman, in reply, said he was very sorry he could not obtain children's brains, as Mr. Travers had suggested, to determine the amount of phosphate they contained. He objected to Mr. Travers's statistics regarding atmospheric pressure being taken in preference to his own, as he had made his deductions from a much larger series of observations than Mr. Travers had. Nothing, he considered, had been said to prove that New Zealand was particularly healthy. As to saying that it is the healthiest part of the world, it is so said of almost every country; but statistics of mortality in towns in New Zealand show that the death-rate is higher than the death-rate of London and other large cities in England. What Captain Mair said about the troops could hardly be taken as evidence against him, as certain diseases were not then introduced into New Zealand. The men were only here for a short time, and were just off a long sea voyage. With
regard to whalers not employing Europeans, he on his part could prove that captains sailing from here will not take New Zealanders when they can get Europeans. He had been associated at the universities in Scotland, and also at the medical schools in London, with numbers of colonial youths, and the opinion formed by professors there was that the colonial students were not able to do the same amount of study as the English youths—they had not the same amount of stamina. Altogether, he did not consider that anything had been said to disprove his theory.
The Chairman said that, in spite of Dr. Newman's able defence, he thought he had not made good his case, although in one or two points he was quite prepared to agree with him. Since last meeting he had looked up one or two figures, and found, with regard to atmospheric pressure, that the mean barometer reading for New Zealand was oxily 0.196 of an inch below that of London, or equal to about 110 feet of altitude; while the pressure in Sydney and Melbourne is actually in excess of that in England. On referring to the valuable volume of statistics prepared by the Registrar-General, which is spoken of in the highest terms by statisticians in England as being among the most concise and intelligible works of the kind produced in any country, he found that the deathrate in New Zealand for 1874 was 16 in 1,000, as against the well-established death-rate in Great Britain of 22 in 1,000. On investigating the cause of the increase of mortality for last year, he found that while, in the towns, the mortality was as follows—Auckland 35, Wellington 26, Nelson 27, Christchurch 30, Dunedin 22—that of the country districts was still only 12. This increase in the towns is still more impressed on us by the fact that, in 1874, 14 per cent, of the children born did not survive a year, and, in 1875, the proportion was nearly 18 per cent. It is thus within the towns that the death-rate is high, and it has nothing to do with the general climate as Dr. Newman supposes. Our towns, until they are properly supplied with sanitary appliances, are little better than crowded camps. The remedy is, to a great extent, in our own hands, and it will be our own fault if we lose the high reputation that New Zealand holds for salubrity of climate. He considered that Dr. Newman deserved the thanks of the Society for having drawn attention to this all-important subject.
2. “On the Civilization of the Pacific,” by Coleman Phillips. (Transactions, p. 59.)
The author, in his elaborate paper, recounted the history of the discovery and acquisition, by European nations, of the different Pacific Island groups, and described the ethnology of the different races, concluding with a discussion on the future prospects of our being able to civilize the dense population scattered about those beautiful islands. In the course of his remarks the author quoted a recent work on New Guinea, which described a rich gold-field where no less than 500 Natives are at work, and where the precious metal is found in extraordinary abundance. Mr. Phillips, however, seemed somewhat doubtful of the truth of this report.
The Chairman said that the lateness of the hour prevented any discussion on this interesting and important subject. The thanks of the Society were recorded to Mr. Phillips for contributing so valuable a paper to its Proceedings.
Sixth Meeting. 28th October, 1876.
Dr. Buller, C.M.G., President, in the chair.
New Members.—H. C. Wilmer, W. D. Campbell, C.E., F.G.S., J. Burne.
Mr. J. C. Crawford was chosen to vote in the election of the Board of Governors for the ensuing year, in accordance with clause 7 of the “New Zealand Institute Act.”
The nomination for the election of honorary members of the New Zealand Institute was made in accordance with Statute IV.
1. “Notes on the Traditions and Manners and Customs of the Mori-oris.” by W. T. L. Travers, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 15.)
Mr. Seed, in answer to the President, said he had visited the Chatham Islands officially in 1858, and what he then observed agreed, in almost every respect, with the interesting paper just read; his only doubt was whether the Mori-oris had any knowledge of the manufacture of fine flax mats, as he found none among them at that date, and he was inclined to think that they had learned the art from the Maoris of New Zealand. The fact was that seal-skin dresses were obtained so easily, and were so much more serviceable, that they had quite lost the art of weaving the finer mats. He was especially impressed with the similarity in the construction of their huts to those of the Samoa group, which he had more recently visited. Although he had some knowledge of the Maori language, he found it quite impossible to understand the Mori ori. He made a census of the population and, by comparison, found that the decrease was quite extraordinary.
Captain Mair said that his visit had only been one of a few days' duration, so that his observations were not so complete as he could wish. Although well acquainted with the Maori language, he experienced great difficulty in obtaining information from the Mori-oris, who seem to avoid using their own language. He did not quite agree with the author regarding the individual ownership of the Karaka trees, as these trees covered a third of the island, and their fruit must be more abundant than the small number of the inhabitants could consume. He also differed from the author as to the mode of burial, as he observed corpses stretched out in the horizontal position, as well as in the crouching posture described by Mr. Travers. He considered there were two distinct races, as among the Maori—as individuals were met having a curious mixture of two kinds of hair, partly light and partly dark coloured, and of both coarse and fine texture. This character could only be accounted for by a mixture of races. At the time of his visit the Mori-oris numbered only 115, there being 11 more, women than men, and only 3 children. He thought the race was dying out rapidly.
Mr. J. T. Thomson regretted that no vocabulary of the Mori-ori language was available. He had endeavoured to procure one through the Hon. Mr. Beynolds, but as yet without success. He thought that an examination of a few of the primary words of the language would suffice to show whether the affinity of the language was to the Malagasi, Malay, or Javanese. He hoped the influence of the Society would be used in getting a vocabulary, however imperfect, of this expiring race. From what he had gathered, the language was so different from Maori that the English alphabet would not suffice for its expression. At the same time, from the paper just read, it would appear that their mythology was the same as that of the Malay races.
Dr. Hector had ascertained from Sir George Grey, that he had full records of the Mori-oris in his possession, which would no doubt be available for publication. Among the papers of the New Zealand Institute there were also brief traditions in the Mori-ori language, the collection of which had been commenced under the direction of Mr.
Rolleston, when Under-Secretary for the Native Department. Their publication had been deferred until more complete, but they were quite at Mr. Thomson's service. So far as he could venture an opinion from an examination of the Mori-ori implements, and from what he had. gathered respecting their language, he considered that the Mori-ori was merely a section of the same race as the Maori. All their rude stone implements could be matched by similar forms found in New Zealand, although the more highly finished forms were in more common use among the Maoris.
Mr. Henry Travers said that he experienced great difficulty in getting correct information about the Mori-oris, as they endeavoured to conceal everything relating to their own race. He understood that Mr. Shand had collected a good deal of information, which probably formed the records now in Sir George Grey's hands. The features of the Mori-oris would, he hoped, soon be made known, as Mr. Ritchie had engaged a photographer, who was now on the island, and his attention had been specially directed to this subject. He still adhered to his opinion, that the Karaka trees were individual property, and thought that their distribution on the island was much more local than Captain Mair had stated. He considered the language quite different from that of the Maori.
Mr. H. T. Clarke, Under-Secretary for the Native Department, said that instructions haa already been sent to Mr. Deighton, the present Resident Magistrate, to collect all the information in his power relating to the language, customs, and past history of the Mori-ori. Having listened with interest to the discussion, he would take care that these instructions were repeated, while he would gladly do anything else he could to render the Mori-ori history more complete.
Mr. Travers, in reply, was glad his paper had excited so interesting a discussion, and hoped that Government would take the subject up before it was too late for the collection of data. They had neglected their duty in this respect, as most of our information about the Chatham Islands and their inhabitants had been acquired through the exertions of private individuals, and even the flora of the country had been published by the Victorian Government.
The President said that, just 21 years ago, he visited the Chatham Islands, and remained there a week. The observations which he was able to make in that limited period led him to the conclusion that the aboriginal Mori-ori were a very distinct race from the Maori, although in lapse of time they had to some extent become blended with their conquerors, whose language, manners, and habits they were rapidly adopting. At the time of his visit, there was a considerable number of pure-bred Mori-oris on the main island, and the Mori-ori language was still in use amongst them. So different was this from the Maori that he found it quite impossible to understand it, although occasionally he detected a word having a resemblance to the latter. There was less euphony in the sound, and the structure of the language appeared to be different. He had succeeded in reducing to writing a number of the words, and would have much pleasure in placing the list at Mr. Thomson's disposal. He hoped that Mr. Seed would do the same, as he was aware that he had devoted some attention to the subject during his official visit. He mentioned other reasons for considering the Mori-ori a distinct race, and stated that as a rule they were several shades darker than the Maori. The race was fast becoming extinct, and would ere long, like that of Tasmania, exist only in history. It was, therefore, of the utmost importance that such information as that which Mr. Travers had collected should be placed on record in some permanent form for the use of future ethnologists. Much information of an interesting nature relative to the early Mori-oris, and especially
to their condition at the time of the Maori invasion, would be found in a pamphlet, now very scarce, published by Dr. Dieffenbach, the naturalist to the New Zealand Company, about the year 1840.
2. “Notes on the Influence of Atmospheric Changes in the Hot Springs and Geysers in the Rotorua District,” by Capt. Gilbert Mair. (Transactions, p. 27.)
Dr. Hector pointed out that the district in which the Hot Lakes are situated, is a wide valley, extending from Tongariro to the Bay of Plenty, barred at intervals by volcanic rocks, the débris of which form intervening plains. The supply of water for the Hot Springs was, no doubt, derived from the rainfall in the upper district, only a portion of it being carried off by the Waikato River. The remainder in filtering through the strata must come in contact with lavas, which are still hot or perhaps undergoing chemical rearrangement, and this gives rise to the high temperature of the water when it reaches the surface. Geysers, like other volcanic phenomena, are well-known to be dependent on changes in atmospheric pressure, but the statement of the author that their activity had a daily periodicity—only affected by the direction of the wind—would appear to require some other explanation; and, as the author stated that his results were only quoted from memory, he thought that a more accurate study of the phenomena would probably show that they were not exceptional. The geysers and hot lakes in White Island are certainly affected by the state of the barometer.
Mr. L. H. B. Wilson confirmed Dr. Hector's remarks about the variability of the lake at White Island, and stated that at the time of his visit it was almost dry.
Mr. Carruthers thought that more accurate observation was necessary. The supposed regularity in the eruptions of the geysers might be due to the coincidences only being observed, just as sailors come to believe in the influence of the moon over the weather—a theory which has been proved to be incorrect.
Mr. C. O'Neill considered that observations should be made to determine how far the accumulation by waves, due to wind affecting the level of the lakes, influenced the level of the hot springs.
Mr. W. T. L. Travers thought that the fact of the springs having different times of intermission—even in close proximity to one another—proved that the intermission could not be due simply to barometric pressure.
Captain Mair, in reply, said that the changes he had observed were beyond all doubt. The Maoris, who were very close observers of nature, had noticed the fact for generations. He thought that atmospheric pressure on a large water surface at a higher altitude might afford an explanation.
Mr. W. D. Campbell remarked, with reference to the last statement that had been made, that, as atmospheric pressure acted vertically, its influence would be exerted irrespective of the size of the orifice through which the water was ejected.
3. Dr. Hector exhibited photographs of a reported Moa head, found near Tauranga, which proved to be the head of a Goosebeak Whale (Epiodon chathamensis), or a closely-allied species.
4. He also drew attention to a fine collection of stone implements from the Copenhagen Museum, which had been presented to the Colonial Museum by Captain Rowan, of Taranaki.
5. The President exhibited a species of Gordius, or Hair-worm, obtained by Capt. Mair in the Lake District.
Seventh Meeting. 4th November, 1876.
Dr. Buller, C.M.G., President, in the chair.
New Member.—W. R. E. Brown.
1. “On the Reptilian Beds of New Zealand,” by A. McKay. (Transactions, p. 581.)
The President said that, in the paper just read, Mr. McKay had given proof that he was not merely an industrious collector but a competent geologist and palæontologist. The subject was most interesting. To Dr. Hector belonged the credit of having worked out and classified these Saurian remains.
Dr. Hector said he had listened to the paper with great interest, as it gave the author's own views gathered from the study of this important section. The Amuri section was valuable, as it was one of the few places in New Zealand where the equivalent beds to our coal-fields are fossiliferous. They might be of slightly different relative ages, but the whole belonged to the cretaceous formation, the bituminous coals of the West Coast being the same as, or even slightly younger than, the brown coals of the Eest. The lower part of the Amuri section was of the age of the lower greensand, the middle part of the upper greensand, while the upper chalk marls, limestones, and grey marls, were the equivalents of the chalk and lower eocene. He exhibited and described several characteristic fossils, particularly teeth, two chimæroid fishes from the lower part of the section, and bones of the great Fossil Penguin (Palæeudyptes antarcticus, Huxley), also hones from the upper marl. He agreed to the view that the whole Amuri series had been involved in the last movements, the formation being represented by fragments of synclines in lines striking right through the country, irrespective of the geographical features, and not corresponding to the existing valley systems.
Mr. John Young said he would like to know whether he had understood the author aright, that the Saurian remains were confined to the tertiary strata.
Mr. McKay, in reply, said he had only stated that some of the fossils found in the higher beds of the series containing Saurians were also to be had in tertiary beds, but that no Saurians of the genera and species common to the beds described had ever been found in the true tertiary rocks of New Zealand, between which and the cretaceo-tertiary formation a break in the sequence occurred.
2. “On the Draining of Towns,” by W. D. Campbell, Assoc. Inst. C.E., F.G.S. (Transactions, p. 29.)
Before any discussion took place, the President read extracts from an account of a new method, invented by Mr. J. Dyer, for removing house sewage.
Mr. W. T. L. Travers alluded in terms of praise to an excellent plan of disconnecting house drains, exhibited by the author, and remarked that the defect of all drainage from houses was the connection between the receptacle and the house. No connection should be permitted, and then no gases would arise. The great drawback to the pail system was that the work would not be fairly performed by the contractors, who might neglect the houses on the hills for the more profitable work on the flats. He believed in the earthclosets when a sufficient quantity of deodorizing earth was used.
Mr. J. H. Wallace considered that the most important matter was to get rid of the dirty water lying in the streets. We wanted a system of drainage that would wash away the filth in the town. There would be plenty of flushing power. The difficulty would be to get rid of the accumulation at the end of the pipes without damaging the harbour.
Mr. Carruthers agreed with Mr. Wallace that the main duty of sewers was to carry away the dirty water from the houses after it had been fouled by mixture with household slops. The water-closet dejecta were of far less importance. Their addition to the sewage did not materially increase the foulness of the latter, as was shown by the fact that the sewage of water-closeted towns was not perceptibly different from that of towns where middens or cesspits were used. He would recommend the use of water-closets as cleaner than earth-closets, and thought it was straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel to allow the ninety-nine parts of nastiness included in the household slops to enter the sewers, and then to go to great trouble and expense in order to keep out of them the one part which is included in the water-closet dejecta. He would also allow rain-water to enter the sewers. He did not believe in the separate system. If the rain was not admitted, no amount of flushing which they were likely to get would keep the sewers clear; and a town with sewers from which the rain was excluded would be far more unhealthy than if it had no sewers at all. The cost of making the sewers large enough to carry rain as well as sewage was not great, as it is necessary to make sewers of such size that, when running full, the sewage will have such velocity that solid matters would be carried along, and, when great inclinations are not procurable, sewers of the requisite size to effect this would also carry ordinary rainfall. He thought the best thing to do with the sewage would be to throw it into the sea; it would not create any great nuisance in the case of large towns if it was taken some distance below low-water mark.
Mr. O'Neill was also in favour of the combined system of draining all into the sea. The storage of such a manure had in most cases proved a failure; it did not pay. He was inclined to think that the use of salt water would do more harm than good. Mr. Dyer's plan of cartage would not answer. He read extracts to show that, according to Sir J. Hawkshaw, it was too complicated a system to work well. He did not agree with Mr. Campbell's pail system except on a small scale, and he was of opinion that nothing but the main-drain system would succeed.
Mr. Frankland said that a system like Mr. Dyer's was worked in Switzerland, at Zurich, but the scavenging proved very offensive.
Mr. Higginson thought the earth-system objectionable where water can be obtained. Mr. Campbell's plan might do for separate houses, but not for towns. He believed in the combined system of carrying everything into the sea. The outfall should be fixed in such a position as would guard against the sewage being returned by the tide. There should be good ventilation, plenty of air-holes, and especial care should be taken in laying and trapping house-drains.
Mr. J. Young did not agree with what had been said against the earth-closet. He objected to the plan of discharging into the sea. He thought it would be unwise to throw away such a valuable manure. He quoted Professor Levy in support of what he said.
Mr. Maxwell said that, whatever plan was adopted for Wellington, it would be well that the Municipal body should have full power to carry out the system.
Dr. Newman thought that almost all towns required the separate system, and the earth-closet was found to work well and give no offence. He also thought the maindrainage system would not work, and that the discharging into the sea was highly objectionable, and would pollute the harbour, as it had done at Sydney. No one seemed to notice anything about the drainage of the subsoil, which would have to be taken away. He considered that large sewers were in danger of breakage from the effects of earthquakes, while pipes would not be so.
Mr. W. R. E. Brown felt very strongly on the subject of draining into the harbour. He hoped to get statistics from Sydney on the subject, and would submit them to the meeting. He was much afraid that the sewage would return with the tides.
Mr. Campbell, on being called on by the President to reply, said that it had been remarked by several speakers that slop-water contained a great part of the decomposable matter, and that pails removed only a small portion. This was quite true, but, as Dr. Newman observed, the pails were removed at the same time as the ashes, which had always to be carted away. The pail system removed the most objectionable part of the sewage. In the River Commissioners' Reports some midden towns are stated to have a discharge from the drains containing a greater amount of impurity than that of many water-closet towns. This, however, was due to old and defective drains, and was not a fair comparison. With regard to the separate system, he believed Mr. Carruthers to have stated that the sizes of sewers would not be smaller than those of a combined system. Now supposing an area of 2,500 acres, say, was reserved to carry off three and a half cubic feet from each person daily, did Mr. Carruthers mean to say that the sewers would not have to be larger to carry off the fourteen million gallons that Mr. O'Neill said would have accumulated in twenty-four hours, with a quarter-inch rainfall only? When pumping is necessary, the advantage of having a regular flow is most apparent. A great number of English towns are adopting the system, as they find they cannot manage the variable discharge from the combined system. The rain-water drains are not provided with either man-holes or lamp-holes, and are laid only four and a half feet deep. Storm overflows are necessary in the combined system, the discharge from, which very often has more impurities than the ordinary sewage, on account of the sand and sewage mud deposits accumulated for a month or more being then removed. Mr. O'Neill was mistaken in supposing that intermittent filtration was not successful. Mr. Bailey Denton, who introduced it at Merthyr Tydvil, has since treated the sewage of many other towns very successfully, the affluent water proving remarkably pure. Another speaker (Mr. Frankland) described the Zurich mode of scavenging. In Florence an improvement on that was used. The town is drained into cesspools, which are emptied periodically by an exhaust pump attached to an air-tight vat, and into which the contents are sucked. Mr. Higginson had described the pail system as abominable, and useful only when there was no water supply. The objections to the pails were only imaginary, for a person could not detect the slightest smell from the collecting carts when they passed along the streets of Rochdale. The pail system is not the only means where there is no regular water supply, for at Walton-on-Thames the house-slops form an efficient vehicle for the contents of the closets; many of the street pipes being only six-inch the rainfall is excluded. The subject of currents in the bay had been alluded to. There appear to be none. Those alluded to by Mr. George, in his account of the Patent Slip, appear to be merely an undertow, caused by the heaping up of the water against the shore by a strong wind. The evil effect of drainage into harbours had been experienced at Scarborough, and many other English towns. Margate, Hastings, and Brighton, had outfalls into the sea, near to or opposite the towns, and had to take steps to take them further away. The Brighton sewage is now taken by a tunnel in the chalk cliff eight miles to the outfall. The evil practice spoken of by Mr. Higginson, of carrying the waste water-pipe from cisterns into the soil-pipe of a closet was very general, and was of course most objectionable.
The President said the object under discussion was one of vast importance to the whole community, and he was glad that the Society could offer a medium for ventilating the views and opinions of those who had studied this question of town drainage. He
trusted that such a discussion as the present would have the effect of calling public attention to the subject, and would have some practical outcome. If there was one town above all others in New Zealand that had to complain of defective drainage, it was Wellington. The smells and stinks in some of our thoroughfares had become a bye-word and reproach all over the Colony.
Eighth Meeting. 11th November, 1876.
Dr. Buller, C.M.G., President, in the chair.
New Members.—C.J. Pownall, H. P. Higginson.
1. “On the Simplest Continuous Manifoldness of two Dimensions and of Finite Extent,” by F. W. Frankland. (Transactions, p. 272.)
2. “Description of two new Species of Veronica,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 502.)
3. “Description of a new Lizard, Naultinus pulcherrimus,” by Dr. W. L. Buller, C.M.G., President. (Transactions, p. 326.)
This paper was accompanied by a drawing of the specimen described.
Dr. Hector said he quite agreed with the President that the orange-coloured tongue separated the lizard as a species from Naultinus elegans, otherwise it might have been taken as a variety of that form with the colours and markings greatly exaggerated. With regard to the large flat-headed species mentioned by the author, he might state that he took specimens with him to England, and submitted them to Dr. Günther. The type of Gray's Naultinus pacificus in the British Museum was produced, and this proved to be exactly the same; from which it would appear that our common tree-lizard is the aberrant form, and the island one the true Naultinus pacificus. Whether these differences were considered of specific importance or not, he deemed it of the highest interest that descriptions should be obtained of every known variety.
4. “On Insect Architecture, or Notes on the Habits of the Black Spider-wasp of New Zealand,” by Dr. W. L. Buller, C.M.G., President. (Transactions, p. 343.)
Dr. Hector wished to be informed whether the Spider-wasp was known to the Natives, or whether there was any positive evidence of its being an indigenous insect. It had become plentiful during the past few years.
The President said that Captain Mair had observed it in 1857, and he had himself met with it to the north of Auckland more than 20 years ago. The Natives generally considered it an introduced insect, but he was not of that opinion himself.
Mr. J. H. Wallace said he had a distinct recollection of it thirty years ago, on his first arrival at Wellington.
Mr. Higginson said that the account given by the President agreed entirely with what he had himself witnessed in the habits of a similar insect at Mauritius many years ago. But that wasp appeared to prefer keyholes before any other situation, in which to construct its nest.
Mr. Buchanan believed the species to be identical with one inhabiting Australia.
Mr. J. Young said that the interesting details given by the President appeared to describe exactly what he had observed in a wasp in Tasmania, of which he proceeded to
give some interesting particulars. There was another species in Tasmania of a reddish colour, which formed borrows for similar purposes in the Hardest clay.
Mr. Gore said that he had found a nest in the tube of an old barometer hanging in the porch at the observatory.
5. “Notes on the Economic Properties of certain Native Grasses,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 494.)
The President considered this a most valuable paper, full of practical information. The hour was too late for opening any discussion. He hoped it might be taken as an earnest of a work on grasses, which it was understood that Mr. Kirk had in contemplation.
Ninth Meeting. 25th November, 1876.
Dr. Buller, C.M.G., President, in the chair.
New Members.—George Lambert, F. W. A. Skae, M.D., F.R.C.S.E., J. T. Thomson, C.E., F.R.G.S., Major W. J. Willis, James McKenzie.
1. “On Hedges and Hedge Plants,” by J. C. Crawford, F.G.S. (Transactions, p. 203.)
Read by Dr. Hector.
Mr. W. R. E. Brown objected to the thorn, as it was subject to attack from a maggot that eats into and runs down the pith of the tree and so destroys it, as well as from the insect mentioned by the author. Gorse is also objectionable, as it gets too open in exposed parts. In Natal, there is a plant with a large thorn (Mimosa) which would answer well here.
Mr. Wallace considered that the Laurustinus made a good break-wind fence.
Dr. Hector stated that the Public Works Department wanted a fence to protect the railway lines. The difficulty was to get a plant that would suit all the different soils met with in a straight line through the country. He had seen a good fence-plant in California, seeds of which are on their way here for experiment.
Mr. Kirk thought that the great drawback with fences here was the want of culture. If we want good fences we must expend labour on them. There were some plants in the Colony good for shelter, among others the Totara, which stands cutting and seeds freely. Pittosporum is also good, and the Pohutukawa. The Holly, after a growth of nine years, makes the best fence, but care should be taken not to cut it until it has been one year in the ground. The Olearia of the Chatham Islands mentioned by Mr. Crawford, is also suitable for fencing purposes. He was rather in favour of the thorn, if it was allowed to grow for the first year without cutting.
Mr. O'Neill was not aware that the Pohutukawa grew inland. The oak seemed a quick-growing tree in this country.
Mr. Kirk said he thought the Pohutukawa would grow anywhere in New Zealand. He had not noticed any difference in the growth of the oak in New Zealand.
Mr. Graham mentioned the prickly Acacia of Australia.
Mr. Buchanan thought that gum trees, planted nine feet apart as live posts, upon which to stretch wire, would prove the most durable living fence that could be obtained. This would also be suitable for railway lines, for the gum would grow in any soil. None of the plants mentioned by previous speakers would, in his opinion, be suitable to keep out stock.
Mr. McLean suggested the willow of Australia as suitable for a fence.
The President did not think the Osage orange would do. On the West Coast, flax plants were used to protect the railway lines from blown sand.
Mr. J. Young stated that the Acacia, mentioned by Mr. Graham, did not last long and took fire quickly.
2. “On Charring Timber as a Protection from Teredo” by J. Buchanan, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 183.)
Mr. W. R. E. Brown would like to know whether charring prevented the timber from decaying in the ground, or only from the Teredo under water.
Mr. O'Neill thought that charring would protect timber from decay. He had noticed that at Auckland the totara piles did not seem affected by the Teredo, while the jarrah piles were completely honeycombed. He was inclined to think that manuka withstood the attack of Teredo.
Mr. J. Young said that charring was very successful in Tasmania and Australia in fencing. The part remaining in the ground, when charred, was found to be quite fresh, but there was not sufficient attention paid to the time for splitting the woods.
Dr. Newman thought that the subject had become rather mixed up. The attack by the Teredo was quite a different thing from the attack by the insect in the ground.
Mr. J. T. Thomson did not think much of charring except in certain cases. Would charring protect soft wood? He thought that the timber under discussion was protected because it was hard. The Teredo seemed worst where fresh and salt water met. He considered that manuka would resist the Teredo without charring. Except for soft woods he did not think charring of much use; he would like to see greater proofs before he believed in this process for the protection of wood.
Mr. Campbell considered it proved, from specimens on the table, that charring did protect wood from the attack of the Teredo. Charring acted on hard timber as creosote did on soft woods.
Mr. Kirk thought that Mr. Buchanan had quite proved the beneficial effects of charring, so that it was not necessary for him to say much. He had seen manuka, when not protected by the mud, completely eaten through by the Teredo. He did not consider that we had any timber which could resist the Teredo, unless artificial means for its protection were employed.
Dr. Hector was of opinion that the manuka piles at Port Chalmers, referred to by Mr. Thomson, were protected from the Teredo by the coating of tunicate molluscs (Boltenia) that adhered to them. He also thought the Teredo in pure salt water was far more destructive than in rivers.
Mr. Marten, from his experience in the south, did not think that charring was of much service for fencing-posts.
Mr. Graham thought it would be interesting to examine the specimens on the table microscopically, to ascertain whether they had both been of equal quality before being experimented on.
Mr. Buchanan, in reply, stated he did not think charring would protect soft inferior timber, but there was a large amount of medium class timber in New Zealand that would resist the Teredo if charred. He considered that charring fencing-posts was necessary on land to protect the timber from the boring beetle, which might be called the land Teredo.
3. “The Comparative Atmospheric Pressure of New Zealand and Great Britain, considered in reference to Dr. Newman's Theory of Physical Deterioration,” by C. Rous Marten, F.R.G.S., F.M.S., M.Sc.M.S. (Transactions, p. 212.) *
Dr. Newman likened Mr. Marten to the theological disputants of old, who put imaginary statements into the mouths of their enemies, and then took great delight in showing the folly of their statements. If the author had carefully read his paper, he would have found in it no hint even that atmospheric pressure was in any way connected with human degeneracy in New Zealand. On the contrary, the speaker said he believed the opposite was the case, and stated that the Aymaras, who live on the high lands adjoining the Andes, under a pressure several inches less than that of New Zealand, were a finely-developed race, with broad, deep, capacious chests. The author had bolstered up a theory by selecting certain facts and ignoring others. Mr. Marten had quoted Dr. Hahn in his own favour, but Dr. Hahn said directly the opposite. Dr. Hector had shown at the previous meeting that the average height of the barometer in England was over 30, and in New Zealand under 30 inches. The speaker also refused to accept Mr. Marten's 14 selected stations, and held that if the mean of all the barometric stations in Great Britain was taken, the atmospheric pressure there would be found to be greater than in New Zealand.
Dr. Hector did not quite come to the same conclusions as the author, for although he did not think it would have the effect he understood Dr. Newman to assert, yet he thought the average pressure over the British Islands was slightly in excess of New Zealand.
Captain Edwin agreed with Mr. Marten as to the pressure in New Zealand being higher, and also that the humidity of the atmosphere did exercise a great influence over the barometer.
Mr. Campbell remarked that he had seen it stated that, on averaging the barometric pressure over the earth's surface, the same latitudes in the North and South Hemispheres would not have the same pressure, but that this would be found to be the same when ten degrees nearer the Equator in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mr. Marten, in reply, said that he certainly considered he understood Dr. Newman's statement regarding the pressure, and it was only concerning the difference in pressure that he attempted any comparison. He had obtained his information from reliable sources.
4. “Notes on the Antarctic Petrel (Priocella antarctica),” by Dr. Hector, C.M.G., F.R.S. (Transactions, p. 464.)
The specimen was presented to the Colonial Museum by Mr. J. J. Buckrell.
5. “Observations on a Species of Shag inhabiting Queen Charlotte Sound,” by Dr. W. L. Buller, C.M.G., President. (Transactions, p. 338.)
6. “On a Tendency to Deformity in the Bill of Nestor meridionalis,” by Dr. Buller, C.M.G. (Transactions, p. 340.)
7. “On the alleged Intercrossing of Ocydromus earli and the Domestic Fowl,” by Dr. Buller, C.M.G. (Transactions, p. 341.)
Notice of Senecio perdicioides.
8. “Notice of Senecio perdicioides,” by J. Buchanan, F.L.S.
The President read this paper, which described a plant that had not been met with since the visit of Captain Cook.
[Footnote] * [Erratum—Page 213, line 8 and 9 from the bottom, omit “a standard work which.”]
Dr. Hector remarked that there were on the table this [ unclear: ] evening this plant, a bird (Procellaria antarctica), and a fish (the Red Mullet), which were all discovered in New Zealand by Captain Cook's Expedition, and had not been since found until now.
Tenth Meeting. 9th December, 1876.
Dr. Buller, C.M.G., President, in the chair.
New Members.—Allison D. Smith, Capt. T. C. Rowan, of New Plymouth.
1. Mr. W. T. L. Travers said that, before the ordinary business was proceeded with, he wished to lay on the table, for the inspection of members, some specimens of a small Brown Beetle, which is very destructive to the young fruit in the gardens and orchards. He exhibited also some small green apples, with the skin blighted and discoloured owing to the attacks of this beetle. He also wished to mention another fact in natural history which had recently come under his observation. He had for some time past noticed a large species of Yellow Slug infesting the heaths in his greenhouse, their slimy tracks being visible everywhere. He was at first inclined to destroy them, but, on more closely watching their habits, he discovered that they were in reality scavengers, and were completely cleansing the plants of a disgusting little Aphis, which he had been unable to eradicate. The slug appeared to be exclusively carnivorous, and he observed it feeding with avidity from a pot of lard, scooping up the fatty matter in a very remarkable way. He might also add that, on mentioning the circumstance to Mr. Martin Chapman, he found that he had made the same observation on the habits of this slug, which had entirely cleansed some rose plants of the swarms of Aphides which infested them.
Remarks on Animals destructive to Fruit Trees
Archdeacon Stock stated that the beetle exhibited by Mr. Travers had been known in Wellington for a period of eight years, and that Mr. Huntley had called attention to its ravages among the young fruit trees.
The President said that Mr. Huntley had read a paper on the subject (Vol. I., p. 29) before this Society, which was illustrated by a series of specimens now in the Colonial Museum. The subject, however, was far from being exhausted. He considered communications of this kind valuable to the Society, because natural history is, after all, a mere record of such observations as those described by Mr. Travers.
2. Mr. Kirk said that, at the request of the President, he had much pleasure in calling the attention of members to a beautiful pot-plant (Medicago marginata), sent over from Government House by Lady Normanby for inspection. It was generally known as the “Snail plant,” from a peculiarity in its legumes, which are coiled round in the form of a disc, with coherent inner margins. This was the first time he had met with this plant in the Colony.
3. “On the [ unclear: ] Longitude of Wellington Observatory,” by the Venerable Archdeacon Stock, B.A. [ unclear: ] (Transactions, p. 217.)
In reply to a question from Mr. Thomson as to whether he had compared the personal error, the author stated that, unless he had gone to Sydney, such a comparison would be impossible; and, moreover, for all practical purposes it was quite unnecessary, as the personal error was never more than one-third of a second in reliable work, and that he considered absolute longitude a mathematical impossibility.
Mr. Thomson said it was usual to compare the personal error, and that in the absence of such comparison he considered the observations very incomplete.
Dr. Hector took the opportunity of bearing testimony to the value of the Venerable Archdeacon Stock's services in this matter. Although himself responsible, as the official head of the Observatory, the practical work had chiefly been done by the Archdeacon. He further stated his agreement with the Archdeacon's conclusion that the longitude of the charts should be adhered to in giving time, although the result of the cable signals was to show it to be slightly in error—only four seconds. He did not agree with Mr. Thomson's doubt of the results on account of the personal equation not having been ascertained, as such error would have very minute effect on transit observations. But the question was the practical one of giving time to seamen, and that scarcely required such refinements.
Mr. Thomson said he admitted that for all practical purposes the observations might be sufficient, but that in such matters he looked for the strictest scientific accuracy. For purely scientific purposes, the ascertainment of personal error was undoubtedly necessary.
4. “Notes on New Zealand Cetacea,” by Dr. Hector, C.M.G., C.M.Z.S. (Transactions, p. 477.)
Archdeacon Stock, who had always before considered the sperm whale peculiar to the Southern Seas, actually saw one spouting in the Bay of Biscay.
Mr. W. T. L. Travers referred to an interesting fact mentioned by the author as to certain Cetaceans traversing the ocean from north to south across the tropics. He had himself, some years ago, met with Banks' oar-fish in New Zealand; this form being met with also in English waters, in India, and in Africa.
Dr. Newman said he could not agree with the view that whales could traverse the tropical seas.
Dr. Buller said that the present discussion brought to his recollection a theory propounded by Dr. Günther, at one of the meetings of the Zoological Society, regarding the distribution of certain pelagic species, to the effect that they performed their migrations from one part of the globe to another, by diving to such depths in the ocean as would give a temperature suited to their nature.
Dr. Hector said he quite believed that this was the true solution of the matter; and the results of the “Challenger” expedition had shown that sufficiently cold water was to be found at no great depth in the tropics to make it quite feasible. Of the fact that the species mentioned were identically the same on both sides of the equator there could be no doubt whatever.
5. “Notes on New Zealand Ichthyology,” by Dr. Hector, C.M.G., F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 465.)
6. “Notes on some ancient aboriginal Câches near Wanganui,” by H. C. Field. (Transactions, p. 220.)
This paper was read by the President.
Mr. Crawford remarked that the paper was not only well written, but well reasoned out, although in respect to the petrified wood having been brought from Australia, he differed from the author, there being plenty of it all over this island. He took exception also to Mr. Field's introduction of volcanic agency as a factor in the phenomena described by him, the nearest centre of volcanic action being Ruapehu, fully seventy miles off.
Dr. Hector said he had listened to the paper with interest, but would like the author to give further details; for example, as to the size of the stones forming the remarkable circles described by him.
7. “On the Draining of Towns, and the Results of having Outfall Drains within Sydney Harbour,” communicated by W. R. E. Brown, Registrar-General. (Transactions, p. 260.)
Mr. W. T. L. Travers said we were indebted to the author for bringing this subject forward. The water referred to as being supplied to the ships in Wellington, came from a stream at the back of the Terrace, and is not the same as that now used by the town.
Mr. O'Neill did not think it fair to compare Sydney with Wellington as regards the sewage, the harbours were so different. The great drawback to Sydney was the bad water supply, narrow streets, and bad ventilation.
Colonel Leckie drew attention to the evil effects of discharging the sewage into the harbours at Bermuda and Gibraltar.
Mr. J. T. Thomson approved of the system advocated in Mr. Campbell's paper (vide ante, p. 29). The water-closet system was of modern date, and only experimental. In Dunedin, the pail system was adopted, with removal of the soil by steam barges, and the plan would, he thought, be the best for Wellington. Manufacturing towns should have a special system.
Mr. Wallace considered that the drainage of Wellington must go to the sea, but the deposit should be collected in brick receivers which would hold the sediment, the latter to be removed without going into the harbour. This plan he illustrated on the black board.
Mr. Campbell remarked that the paper and reports contained most valuable particulars of the difficulties occasioned in Sydney by adopting a bad system of sewage. If Sydney was situated on the sea-shore, there would still be a nuisance from the close proximity of the sewer. The City Engineer advocated the emptying, by pneumatic vans, of those cesspits which had still to be used, which was probably the best means that could be adopted. The reports appeared to show an inclination towards the separate system. The Melbourne pail-system did not appear to be a success under the present mode of management. The result would probably be different if the pails were numbered and a regular record kept of each, and one carter and one guard provided for each cart; also one inspector to every four or five carts, as at Rochdale, and bed-room slops not permitted to be thrown into the pails.
Dr. Newman thought that, into whatever harbour sewage was discharged, it would pollute it and be dangerous. Mr. Wallace was quite wrong in his theory about the tanks. The most offensive part would not remain at the bottom. However great the scour, it must be taken a long way off.
Mr. Crawford said he was quite prepared to take on his land all the manure of this kind for 1,000 years to come.
Mr. Brown, in reply, quoted extracts from reports against Mr. Wallace's plan, bearing out what Dr. Newman had said against it.
The following papers were taken as read:—
Remarks upon the supposed Pleistocene Glaciation of New Zealand and Postglacial Moas.
8. “Remarks upon the supposed Pleistocene Glaciation of New Zealand and Post-glacial Moas,” by T. Cockburn Hood, F.G.S.
9. “On a new Fossil Bird, Anas finschi, from the Earnscleugh Cave,” by P. J. Van Beneden; communicated by Dr. Hector. (Transactions, p. 599.)
10. “On the Remains of a Dog found by Capt. Rowan near White Cliffs, Taranaki,” by Dr. Hector, C.M.G. (Transactions, p. 243.)
11. “Descriptions of new Genera and Species of New Zealand Coleoptera,” by Francis P. Pascoe, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 402.)
12. “On the Anthribidæ of New Zealand,” by D. Sharp. (Transactions, p. 375.)
13. “On the Colydiidæ of New Zealand,” by D. Sharp. (Transactions, p. 390.)
14. “On a New Trilobite, Homalonotus expansus,” by Dr. Hector, C.M.G. (Transactions, p. 602.)
15. “Notes on New Zealand Crustacea,” by Dr. Hector. (Transactions, p. 472.)
On the proposed Introduction of the Polecat into New Zealand.
16. “On the proposed Introduction of the Polecat into New Zealand,” by Dr. Buller, C.M.G., President.
The Legislature having rejected the proposed measure for prohibiting the introduction of Polecats and other noxious animals into this colony, nothing now remains for us but to sound the note of warning before it is too late, and, by directing public opinion to the subject, to mitigate the danger of our being overrun with one of the worst of predaceous vermin.
For this purpose, I beg to place before the Society the following extracts from a letter which I have lately received from Professor Newton, of Cambridge, an acknowledged authority on all zoological matters:—
“In Land and Water for 8th July, Mr. Frank Buckland wrote that he had been applied to, by Messrs. Maconie and Cuthbertson, of Invercargill, to send out weasels to New Zealand (five pairs, at £5 each), to be let loose to check the superabundance of rabbits. Buckland said he could not get weasels, but proposed sending ‘polecat-ferrets’— 30 or 40 pairs! I at once wrote to remonstrate with him, urging him to do nothing till he had communicated with New Zealand, and this he has promised to do, but does not give up the notion. Harting, Rowley, and some one else have also protested in terms like my own, as you will see by Land and Water for 15th and 22nd July. I suspect Buckland will eventually drop the matter; but, meanwhile, it seems quite possible that some sheep-farmer or other (for with them began the complaint) may on his own responsibility act on this mischievous hint without waiting for Buckland, and then good-bye at once and for ever to all your brevipennate birds, as well as to many other of your native species, which of course have no instincts whereby they may escape from such bloodthirsty enemies—to say nothing of pheasants and the like, which you have been introducing at so great a cost, and your poultry. Here, as I dare say you know, the polecat (and the ferret is only a tame polecat) is the most detested beast we have, and, in consequence, has nearly been extirpated. In New Zealand (if introduced), it will undoubtedly become master of the situation. * * * I trust that, among you all, you will be able to keep off this threatened scourge. Colonists in general have not been slow to hinder unacceptable importations from the Mother Country, as witness the historic tea-chests at Boston, United States of America, and Australian convicts. I have always understood that the latter were selected for the mild nature of their crimes, but even this was not allowed. There cannot be a doubt of how you should behave when you have a ship-load of known murderers to be let loose on your peaceful shores; and I conceive my duty as an Honorary Member of your Institute compels me to give you this timely notice.”
The answer to this will naturally be that the bloodthirsty invader will do good service in ridding the country of rabbits; but the grave question to be considered is, whether, in the attempt to put down one evil, you are not permitting a larger one to grow up in its place. The polecat once established in this country, it would be almost impossible to extirpate it; and the disturbance to the existing conditions of animal life, by such an introduction as that proposed, would be incalculable. It will, no doubt, be argued on the other side, that sheep are of more practical account to the colony than kiwis and wekas, and that, from the sheep-farmer's point of view, anything almost is preferable to the “rabbit nuisance.” But the real point raised by Professor Newton, and deserving of earnest consideration, is, whether the object in view cannot be attained by other equally efficacious means and without the introduction of the pestilent polecat. The issue is an important one to every lover of natural history, and the members of our Society ought not to be content to let it rest where it is.
Some ten years ago, the same correspondent warned us that the colonists would “some day rue their zeal in acclimatizing the house-sparrow.” His voice was unheeded, and, at a cost of over £100, a shipment of Passer domesticus was turned loose in our midst. Under protection of a false public sentiment they rapidly increased and multiplied to tens of thousands; and at the present time, the irrepressible “sparrow nuisance” appears to occasion almost as much anxiety among our agriculturists as the “rabbit nuisance” does among the runholders.
Common experience teaches us that it is a comparatively easy thing to introduce animals into a new country, and equally difficult to extirpate them when once fairly established. In such a case as the present, it will assuredly be found that “prevention is better than cure.”
Annual General Meeting. 24th February, 1877.
Thomas Kirk, F.L.S., Vice-president, in the chair.
Minutes of last annual general meeting read and confirmed.
Abstract Report of Council.
Eleven general meetings have taken place since the last report was presented, all of which have been held in the lecture-hall at the Colonial Museum, kindly placed at the disposal of the Society for this purpose by the Governors of the New Zealand Institute.
Twenty names have been added to the list of members since the last annual meeting, making a total number of 203 at the present time, and the proceedings of the Society have been fuller and more lengthy than in any previous year.
Sixty-five papers and communications have been read on the following subjects:— Geology 6, Zoology 17, Botany 16, Chemistry 6, and Miscellaneous 20.
The Society's Library has also been increased very considerably during the year, by the addition of 166 volumes purchased for the Society by Dr. Hector. Besides these, a large collection of pamphlets and scientific works of various kinds have been presented by Dr. Hooker, C.B., of Kew, through Dr. Hector. The Society has also obtained very complete sets of mounted natural science diagrams, as well as relievo maps of various countries.
The Statement of Accounts for the past year, prepared by the Treasurer, now submitted, shows that a sum of £65 16s. 2d. has been spent on books, and £19 10s. on printing and binding; while, in compliance with the rules, £31 10s. (being one-sixth of the Society's income) has been handed to the New Zealand Institute. The total receipts
during the year, including a balance of £101 0s. 4d. from the preceding year, were £259 8s. 4d., and at the present time there is a balance in the bank to the credit of the Society of £90 11s. 6d.
The thanks of the Society are due to the following Institutions for publications received as donations:—Smithsonian Institute, Harvard College, Royal Society of Tasmania, United States Geological Survey.
On the motion of the Hon. Mr. Mantell, seconded by Mr. G. Rous Marten, the following resolution was agreed to:—
“That the President be elected to office for one year instead of for two as hitherto.”
Election of Officers for 1877
Election of Officers for 1877.—President—W. T. L. Travers, F.L.S.; Vice-presidents—T. Kirk, F.L.S., J. Carruthers, M. Inst. G.E.; Council— Dr. Buller, C.M.G., F.L.S., C.C. Graham, James Hector, M.D., C.M.G., F.R.S., Hon. W. B. D. Mantell, F.G.S., J. C. Crawford, F.G.S., A. K. Newman, M.B., M.R.C.P., C. Rous Marten, F.R.G.S., F.M.S.; Auditor— Arthur Baker; Secretary and Treasurer—R. B. Gore.
The meeting then resolved itself into an ordinary one.
New Members.—J. Hurst, W. Johnston, of the Hutt, G. W. Williams, Mr. Justice Richmond.
1. “On New Zealand Coffee,” by J. C. Crawford. (Transactions, p. 545.)
The Hon. Mr. Mantell said he had a plant of the same name, with a much smaller berry, from the Bay of Plenty. He would like to know if the Chairman knew of more than one plant of the kind?
Mr. Kirk said he only knew of one plant of that name.
2. “Notes on the System of Survey proposed by Mr. Thomson to be adopted for New Zealand, from a Legal Point of View,” by W. T. L. Travers, F.L.S., a Barrister of the Supreme Court. (Transactions, p. 280.)
Dr. Hector, in connection with this subject, spoke, from his experience in the survey of British North America, of the degree of accuracy of latitudes obtained by the Americans with refined instruments.
3. “On Anemometry,” by C. Rous Marten, F.R.G.S., F.M.S., M.Sc.M.S. (Transactions, p. 293.)
Dr. Hector considered the paper very interesting, but could not altogether agree with, the author. Dr. Robinson's instruments only registered truly horizontal movements of the air, and could not faithfully record sudden gusts, which are rarely horizontal. Lynd's instrument was the best for sudden squalls of wind.
Dr. Newman considered that the pressure of wind was generally exaggerated, but not the velocity, which was perhaps underrated. Nothing, he thought, could possibly withstand the pressures sometimes indicated.
The author thought that, when Dr. Hector had read his paper carefully, he would agree more fully with his views.
The hour being late, the following papers were taken as read:—
4. “Descriptions of new Plants,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 547.)
5. “Description of a new Species of Pilularia,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 547.)
6. “On the Composition of the Silver Ore of Richmond Hill,” by W. Skey, Analyst to the Geological Survey Department. (Transactions, p. 556.)
7. “On a useful Modification of common Writing Ink,” by W. Skey. (Transactions, p. 557.)
Analysis of the Geyser Waters of New Zealand
8. “Analysis of the Geyser Waters of New Zealand,” by W. Skey.
9. “On a Modification of the Mercuro-iodide Test for the Detection of Alkaloidal or Albuminous Matters,” by W. Skey. (Transactions, p. 553.)
On the Approximate Composition of Winslow's Soothing Syrup (abstract).
10. “On the Approximate Composition of Winslow's Soothing Syrup,” by W. Skey.
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The author showed that, in the case of five samples of English and American manufacture, taken indiscriminately, not one contained morphia in greater quantity than at the rate of 1/23 of a grain to the fluid ounce, although this alkaloid was present in each of them. The residue consisted of water, oil of aniseed, and sugar; the oil to about one-thirtieth by volume of it, and the sugar to the extent of 42 per cent.