First Meeting. 1st June, 1885.
J. A. Pond, President, in the chair.
New Members.—Mrs. E. Craig, S. Eastham, C. Hudson, J. Kenderdine, J. S. Rutherford, W. Tait.
1. The President delivered the anniversary address.
It is a pleasing duty, in opening this session, to say that, from a monetary point of view, we are in a position of comfort, if not affluence, by the substantial legacy of the late Mr. E. Costley, and the endowment of land by the New Zealand Government. The effect of these gifts will be felt in the future by the increased usefulness of this Institute to aid in the advance of science and natural history, and thus directly to assist in the development of the resources of our colony, and also in conserving that portion of our fauna, as far as possible, which seems doomed to extinction by the advance of new and probably more fitted forms of life.
After reviewing the progress of the colony during the last fifteen years, he proceeded to discuss the sources of natural wealth in the colony, under the divisions of Agriculture, Mining, Manufactures. With reference to them he made the following important remarks:—
With the enrichment of the food supplies of the sheep, and the introduction of imported grasses in the place of some at least of the native ones, it will be possible to still further improve the staple, largely increase the carrying capacity of the land, and consequently our producing power.
Now, chemistry has taught us that the soil does not contain an endless store of fertilisers in a soluble form favourable for plant food, and so capable of yielding the amount of nutrition demanded by an unlimited number of stock; and it must not be forgotten that, in the export of our millions sterling annually, we are also drawing largely upon the stores of valuable material which a long course of years has made available for us in the natural decomposition of the soils.
Let us see, then, what science teaches us in reference to our losses by these exports, of which we are so justly proud.
In the year 1883 our statistics tell us that our export of wool amounted to 28,125 tons, while chemistry informs us that this immense mass of wealth carried away with it also—
Potash to the amount of 1,216 tons.
Nitrogen, equal to ammonia, to the amount of 4,734 tons.
Here we have a loss not generally considered. Possibly the nitrogen of the air may gradually replace that which has been carried away, but the potash is actually a factor of our wealth gone from us.
In respect to the export of grain for that year, we find that the weight of wheat exported amounted to 131,250 tons, and the weight of valuable fertilisers lost with it are in the following proportions:—
|Nitrogen, equal to ammonia||3,270 tons.|
It will be interesting to see the intrinsic value of these fertilisers. The weight of nitrogen as ammonia from both the wool and wheat is 8,000 tons, and this, calculated at a basis of .15 per ton for sulphate of ammonia, is equal to about £400,000.
The weight of potash from both the wool and wheat is 1,920 tons, which, calculated at the English market rate, comes to £57,600.
The phosphoric acid in the wheat is equal to 5,000 tons of bones, which, at £7 per ton, brings the value to £35,000.
These results, it must be remembered, are for one year.
It was this consideration which led me to urge that care should be shown in attending to the plant food, while considering the pastures of the sheep.
In the near future we shall be more forcibly brought to face these losses, as undoubtedly we shall export large quantities of meat, some preserved and some fresh. In the former case the loss will be large, but in the latter it will be much greater; as in the former we shall, at all events, retain the bone to be returned to the land, but in the latter case it will be nearly all loss. Unfortunately, the agriculturist has but little of the effete matter returned to his soil from the actual material withdrawn. The utilisation of the waste matter of our towns is still an unsolved problem, and he who can bring this to a satisfactory issue will indeed deserve the thanks of his fellow men.
While we are reviewing the export of cereals, it will be wise to consider for a moment the immense return from our lands over those of the adjoining colonies. Choosing wheat for the purpose of comparison, though oats, barley, hay, and potatoes show the same excess, and taking the average of ten years from 1873 to 1883, we find the bushels per acre as follows:—New South Wales, 14.92; Victoria, 12.38; South Australia, 7.9; Queensland, 12.5; West Australia, 11.; Tasmania, 18.23; New Zealand, 26.3; while the average return for eighteen years in the United Kingdom was 26.5.
To account for this excess in regard to this colony, we have either to accept as a reason the exhaustion of the lands in the colonies named, or the superior soil or more favourable climatic state of our own colony. On this subject, and reviewing the same disproportionate returns, McIvor gives his opinion on the ground of our much greater humidity, and I have no hesitation in arriving at the same conclusion. It is this constant humidity which causes the more speedy disassociation of the minerals, and the more prolific production of plant food. As we see in the oases of the deserts, it requires only water to clothe the sterile plains with vegetation. We must not, however, too heavily discount this most favourable state, or the loss will be greater than we anticipate. As I have already stated, our agricultural wealth is by far the greatest, and it should be our constant endeavour to still further enhance it. The choice of the most luxurious and enriching foods will yield us the greatest returns of butter and cheese from a given number of cattle, and the improvement of this stock alone will fully repay all our care and attention. Consideration should also be given to the cultivation of fibre-producing plants, as these may be sown and won by machine labour, and be sure of a never failing market.
I cannot leave the subject of agriculture without saying a few words on the sugar-beet. As you are aware, I have gone very fully into the examination of roots grown in this district, and find in regard to the amount of sugar contained in them, that they compare most favourably with the results obtained in Germany, and this, when grown with but a tithe of the care required in that country. Chemistry, again, has come to our aid, and shown that the sugar may be extracted in a much more expeditious and cheaper manner than heretofore, especially by the beautiful method of Scheibler and Lamont in the improved strontia process, and as each year passes, these improvements are becoming more practically available. At the same time, the Government of this colony have encouraged the establishment of this industry by large bonuses and protective duties, which should
go far towards making this a thriving work. That it will be carried successfully to completion I am confident, and, in that case, one of the most important results will be in the benefit to our stock by the additional nutritive food supplies, and the benefits to the land by the freeing it from the accumulation of weeds, which, in many parts of this district, in the lighter soils, proves a great drawback.
The subject of agriculture brings us immediately in contact with a wonderful array of insect life, affecting our crops, our fields, and our fruits. Some of them are actually beneficial to us, but the large majority are prejudicial. If we turn to some of the countries which have been ravaged by pests, we will obtain some idea of their magnitude, and the great difficulties and cost which have to be met before their number can be so reduced as to make it possible to continue the raising of the crops. It is but a few years since that the whole world was alarmed at the ravages of the Doryphora, better known as the Colorado beetle. Fortunately this pest speedily succumbed, and the alarm abated. Again, for years we have witnessed the efforts made in America and France to check the spread of the Phylloxera vastatrix. The loss to France alone from this pest has been so serious as to cause it to be mentioned as a national calamity; and the German Government has, after very large expenditure and repressive measures, been unable to keep that country free from this terrible visitant. In New Zealand, and in this district, we know that this pest has been already acclimated. The manner in which this has occurred does not concern us so seriously as the way in which this and several other pests may be best held in check or actually exterminated. It is here that science opens up a way of combatting these plagues. It is in the study of this insect life that we may hope to attain such a knowledge of their habits and enemies that will enable us to ensure their destruction, while the more careful study of those plants which are the most capable of resisting their aggression will make it possible, by judicious selection, of reducing their harmfulness to a minimum, at the same time cultivating the assistance we may obtain from protection and multiplication of the insects that prey upon those which so injuriously affect us. This work can only be done by the earnest efforts of our entomologists, and I feel it my duty, on behalf of this Institute, to say how indebted we are to the constant and earnest researches made in the study of the Coleoptera of New Zealand by Mr. T. Broun. In the present aspect of knowledge, it is the specialist alone who can make any advance in original research. To the student who has chosen for his theme chemistry, physics, agriculture, or mechanics, the prizes which await his earnest efforts are certain and great, but to those who enter the arena of original research in many of the other branches of science the honours are few, and these alone are the reward.
The study of entomology may prove of great value, not alone in the effort to rid ourselves of a present evil, but to guard against its importation. I have spoken of a few of the pests which affect our success in agriculture, but there is one which, though happily not a denizen of Australasia, may become so unless sufficient supervision is exercised, and the effect of its becoming acclimatised in Australia would be ruinous beyond calculation. I allude to the ædipoda migratoria, better known as the locust. The importation of this insect may not appear feasible; but when we bear in mind how close the countries of its habitat are brought to the shores of Australia by means of the direct steamers, and the risks in importing the fruits of those countries of also obtaining the ova or larvæ of this insect, I do think trouble or expense should not be considered in the efforts to keep these colonies free from this terrible plague. In Cyprus, where the destructive ravages of this pest have been felt severely, the British Government have at great expense done much to reduce their number. In 1881, during the autumn and winter, 1,330 tons of their eggs were destroyed, and 56,116 millions of larval locusts were destroyed by traps and screens. Some idea of the extent of the operations may be gathered from the fact that in one
district there was a continuous line of screens, without a break, for 27 miles in length, arranged in three great loops, connected by a common centre.
These results are of such magnitude, and the ravages of this insect so serious, that I do not hesitate to bring this subject before this Institute, and from this before the kindred societies of the adjacent colonies. Any efforts that are made to guard against such a danger are worthy every consideration, for such a calamity as the introduction of this scourge into Australia, with its vast plains but partially peopled, with such an extent of breeding ground, would result in an increase before which that of Cyprus would be trivial, and the effects upon the Australian Colonies disastrous. It is true that there might be but little risk to this colony; but any serious misfortune affecting the adjacent colonies would also prove injurious to us.
So far, we have been careless to a degree of culpability in not taking steps to guard against the importations of several of these pests, more especially the Codlin moth and Phylloxera, and are still lax in our action in not discovering or introducing means for eradication. The combination of the Australian Colonies to deal with these questions is a matter which has already had a precedent in the expenditure of £40,000 at Geelong in the attempt to exterminate the Phylloxera.
He next reviewed the progress made in meteorology and mining, and concluded with a mention of the chief manufacturing industries, and sources of power that can be utilized.
2. “New species of Carabidæ,” by Captain T. Broun. (N.Z. Coleoptera.).
3. “On a new species of Chromodoris,” by T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 137.)
4. “Notes on the Stitch-bird (Pogonomis cincta),” by A. Reischek. (Transactions, p. 84.)
Second Meeting. 29th June, 1885.
J. A. Pond, President, in the chair.
New Members.—D. R. S. Galbraith, W. Goldie, W. F. Hubbard, C.E., G. W. Owen.
Papers.—1. “Objections to the Theory of Evolution,” by J. Buchanan.
Professor Thomas criticised the paper at considerable length, and further discussion was postponed until the next meeting.
2. “On the Growth of Transplanted Trees,” by J. Baber, C.E. (Transactions, p. 311.)
Third Meeting. 27th July, 1885.
J. A. Pond, President, in the chair.
New Members.—T. L. Bates, F. Ireland.
The President alluded to the recent death of Mr. J. T. Mackelvie, for many years past a most liberal benefactor of the Institute. Several other members also spoke in reference to the active interest and sympathy always evinced towards the Institute by Mr. Mackelvie.
Papers.—1. “The Maintenance of the Sun's Heat,” by Professor F. D. Brown. (Abstract, Transactions, p. 394.)
2. “Notes on Parkinson's Petrel (Procellaria parkinsonii),” by A. Reischek. (Transactions, p. 87.)
3. “Notes on Gould's Petrel (Procellaria gouldi).” by A. Reischek. (Transactions, p. 90.)
Fourth Meeting. 24th August, 1885.
Hon. Colonel Haultain in the chair.
New Member.—J. Coom, C.E.
Papers.—1. “Notes on Cook's Petrel (Procellaria cookii),” by A. Reischek. (Transactions, p. 92.)
2. “The Sphygmograph,” by J. Murray Moore, M.D.
The author traced the development of pulse-recorders generally, from the first ingenious attempts of the Rev. S. Hales to measure the force and rhythm of the arterial pulsations of the lower animals, to the later experiments of Viererdt in Germany, and Marey in France, on the human subject. The construction of Dudgeon's sphygmograph, the instrument now in general use, was fully explained, and its mode of action pointed out. A large number of diagrams of pulse tracings were exhibited, and the differences in the tracings produced by the action of certain diseases on the circulatory system was clearly and fully demonstrated.
3. “Prehistoric Weapons,” by J. Martin, F.G.S.
This was a verbal description of certain stone, bone, and bronze weapons from the Swiss lake-dwellings, presented to the Museum by the late Mr. J. T. Mackelvie, and a comparison between them and similar articles from other parts of Europe and North America. Mr. Martin's remarks were copiously illustrated by lime-light views and diagrams.
Fifth Meeting. 21st September, 1885.
J. A. Pond, President, in the chair.
New Members.—E. Bell, Captain Clayton, G. Cozens, W. Macgregor Hay.
Papers.—1. “Notes on the New Zealand Puffin,” by A. Reischek. (Transactions, pp. 93 and 95.)
2. “On a new Variety of the Tuatara,” by A. Reischek. (Transactions, p. 108.)
3. “The Influence of the Means of Transit on the Social Condition of the People,” by S. Vaile.
Sixth Meeting. 19th October, 1885.
J. A. Pond, President, in the chair.
New Member.—L. Cussen.
Papers.—1. “Description of New Zealand Spiders,” by A. T. Urquhart. (Transactions, p. 184.)
2. “The Minerals of the Cape Colville Peninsula,” by J. A. Pond.
3. “Observations on the Habits of New Zealand Birds,” by A. Reischek. (Transactions, p. 96.)
Seventh Meeting. 30th November, 1885.
J. A. Pond, President, in the chair.
1. The President called attention to the Maori Carved House, or Pataka, erected in the Museum at the expense of Mr. F. D. Fenton. An unanimous vote of thanks to Mr. Fenton was passed.
2. “Descriptions of three new Species of Coprosma,” by T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 315.)
3. “Notes on the Habits of Pole-cat, Ferret, Stoat, and Weasel,” by A. Reischek. (Transactions, p. 110.)
4. “An Account of the new Volcano in the Friendly Islands,” by Rev. S. W. Baker. (Transactions, p. 41.)
Dr. Murray Moore read the following extract from the official log of the schooner Maile, Captain Lane, in reference to the same volcanic outburst:—
“Position at noon, Friday, 16th October, 1885: longitude, 175° S.W.; latitude, 20° 15′ S. Observed columns of smoke shooting into the air, bearing W.S.W., about 20 miles away. Kept away, and ran within seven miles of it, when we found it to be an active volcano, and that it had thrown up an island about one mile long and over 100 feet high in the centre, sloping gradually all round, with a crater on the E.N.E. side, from which immense columns of matter were thrown continually to a great height; said matter falling again has evidently formed the island, as the crater is on the weather side, and nothing to windward but a low ledge. At sunset the eruption was almost over, only a small jet now and then appearing. The position of the volcano is—longitude 175° 25′ W.; latitude 20° 20′ S.
“[While going before the wind, and when seven miles to windward of the island, some fine gritty dust fell on the deck, which I believe to be pure scoria ash from the volcano.]
“Nov. 21st, 1885.—Left Tonga for Auckland. The volcano is still active; a party, just returned from there in the schooner Jiole Tafa, report the island four miles long and 300 feet high. The columns of smoke, etc. shot into the air are visible at Nukualofa anchorage, 47 miles N.N.W., the bearing from thence exactly agreeing with the position formerly given.
W. S. Lane.”
5. “The Building Timbers of Auckland,” by E. Bartley. (Transactions, p. 37.)
Mr. T. Peacock, M.H.R., said he had no doubt that discrimination was necessary in the selection of timber for different purposes. He took excep-
tion to the suggestion Mr. Bartley had made, that the durability of the timber was affected by the time of year the kauri was cut down. After inquiry, he had come to the conclusion that the season did not so much affect a slow-growing tree like the kauri. That was the opinion of experienced persons. As to the statement that the timber was cut too young—2 feet 6 inches was mentioned by Mr. Bartley, which was the minimum size contractors were allowed to cut—he thought the remark made as to 9 inches of sap was not applicable to all districts. He had seen young trees cut, and the sap was only a couple of inches, and perhaps not that. He thought the paper a valuable one, and further investigation might take place in the same direction.
Mr. John Buchanan was a little surprised to hear the wholesale condemnation of kahikatea. His observation on this matter extended over twenty-four years. He knew one house built of kahikatea which had been up for forty years—he referred to Mr. Thorpe's house in the Upper Thames. The timber was decayed at certain parts, but only in those portions of the building where other timbers would be, and certainly not more than other timbers. He had used kahikatea, and had not found the dry rot take place. He had made considerable inquiry from people at the Thames, where it was almost universally used, and he had heard nothing of dry rot. He thought the time would come when kahikatea would be a most valuable timber. The kahikatea he referred to was that grown in swamps; that from Bagnall's mill, for instance, and other parts of the Thames. From his knowledge of the subject, gained from various sources, he thought Mr. Bartley's statement should have been somewhat qualified.
The President (Mr. J. A. Pond) also took exception to Mr. Bartley's statement about kahikatea, and could instance the same house as Mr. Buchanan. From examinations he had made, the hardest kinds came from the swamps. He might mention that a house only a short distance from Thorpe's was bad with rot after standing only three or four years. The property of absorption was very marked in some classes of this timber, and was really the cause of the decay. In the case of one house at Te Aroha, where decay had set in some parts, he blamed to a certain extent the too early painting of the timber. He had given a good deal of time to the subject of the cutting of timbers. He had been assured by mill-owners of twenty and thirty years' experience that there was a great difference between timber cut in winter and that cut in spring and summer. He had verified the fact of the very free discharge of sap in spring and summer. As to totara, there was a house on the wharf where the whole sap and heart had gone in one piece of wood, and this was only after three years, Mr. Bartley had divided kauri into four classes. Whether that was so, or whether the appearance was owing to the location, he was not able to decide, but he rather favoured the theory of location.
7. “The Survival of the Fittest,” by E. A. Mackechnie.
Annual Meeting. 22nd February, 1886.
J. A. Pond, President, in the chair.
New Member.—W. A. Graham.
Twenty new members have been elected during the year. The losses have been 24 in all, and may be classified as follows:—From death, 5; from resignation, 8; and from non-payment of subscription, 11. The number on the roll of the Institute at the present time is 300. Regret is expressed at
the death of Mr. J. T. Maekelvie, for many years a most liberal donor to the museum and library.
The total revenue paid into the general account has been £975 1s. 8d. The members' subscriptions have yielded £263 11s., and £582 10s. 10d. have been received as interest on investment. The expenditure has reached a total of £1,078 3s. 3d., thus leaving a debit balance of £103 1s. 7d. The investments standing in the name of the Institute have reached a total of £10,063.
Acting on the authority of a special general meeting of the Institute, the real and personal property of the Institute has been vested in the hands of the Trustees appointed under the Auckland Museum Endowment Act. The Trustees have been incorporated under the provisions of “The Religious, Charitable, and Educational Trust Boards Act, 1884,” under the name of the Auckland Institute and Museum Trust Board.
Seven meetings have been held during the year, at which 21 papers on various literary and scientific subjects have been read.
Election of Officers for 1886:—President—Professor F. D. Brown, B.Sc.; Vice-presidents—J. A. Pond, H. G. Seth Smith; Council—J. Baber, C.E., C. Cooper, Hon. Colonel Haultain, E. A. Mackechnie, J. Martin, F.G.S., J. M. Moore, M.D., T. Peacock, M.H.R., Rev. A. G. Purchas, M.R.C.S.E., S. P. Smith, F.R.G.S., J. Stewart, C.E., Professor A. P. Thomas, F.L.S.; Secretary and Treasurer—T. F. Cheeseman, F.L.S., F.Z.S.; Auditor—J. Reid.