New Members.—R. G. Toulson, T. Lidbetter, W. G. Thistle, B.A. and Rev. La Menant des Chesnais.
The President delivered an opening address:
He reviewed the remarkable progress which had been made in the colony in scientific pursuits since the time when the New Zealand Institute was first established, and pointed out that while most branches of education—primary, secondary, and University—were now well provided for, there was still a great want of facilities for technical education. The constitution of the New Zealand Institute provided for this; but that part of the Act had remained a dead letter, owing, in part, to the mistaken notion that the Universities could provide such training. This, however, was not the case, as the University student must devote the whole of his time to studying for his degree. What is wanted is the teaching of applied science and other branches of education, by means of evening lectures, to those who are engaged in business during the day. Such provision is now being made in the other colonies, and New Zealand should not be behindhand, as it would do more for developing colonial industries on a sound basis than the mere granting of bonuses or the imposition of protective duties. In describing the present state of our knowledge in various branches of science, he gave an account of the conclusions arrived at in Wallace's recent work on “Island Life” with regard to the origin of the New Zealand fauna and flora, which he considers to have been in part derived from the eastern part of Australia when it formed an island separated from the western portion by an extension of the tropical sea. When these two islands were joined, the western forms of life displaced the eastern, and caused the great dissimilarity which now exists between Australia as a whole and New Zealand. He (Dr. Hector) showed reasons, however, for still maintaining that New Zealand was at one time a portion of an extended antarctic continent that included part of South America, which was the view brought before the Society by Professor Hutton, but which Mr. Wallace considers untenable. Referring to the work of the Meteorological Department, he gave a description, with diagrams, of the operations of the intercolonial weather exchanges which have been lately instituted, and explained the manner in which it had been found from experience that storms skirting the south coast of Australia approach New Zealand from the westward, travelling at the rate of about 400 miles a day. After dealing with this subject in detail, he drew attention to the advantages which would be gained from the establishment of a magnetical observatory in New Zealand.
The address, which occupied about an hour, was listened to with great interest.