Abstract of Annual Report.
The number of members is 172, being an increase of one on former year. Those removed by death are Mr. D. B. Cruickshank, whose association with the Institute dated almost from its foundation; and Mr. W. P. Moat, well-known in Auckland from his lengthened services on the Board of Education.
Ten meetings were held during the year, at which seventeen papers were read.
The register kept on Sundays shows that 10,154 persons entered the Museum on that day, or an average of 191; the daily average on weekdays being about 100.
Numerous donations have been made to the Museum, but the Council regret that, owing to being unable to employ a taxidermist, most of the additions in the Zoological Department have had to be packed away, and some had to be declined. The Council specially refer to the gift made by the chief Hami te Waewae of a carved post or “tiki” from Otakanini Pa, Kaipara, a fortress well known in ancient Maori history. Other donations of special value have been made by Mr. T. Coates, Mr. F. D. Fenton, Mr. T. C. Tims, and Mr. E. H. Woledge.
The rearrangement and labelling of the minerals has been completed; the collection of kauri-gum has been rearranged and made ready for labelling; duplicate and unexhibited specimens of all classes have been carefully overhauled and repacked, and several sets have been withdrawn for exchange; several minor changes have been made in the arrangement of the ethnological collections.
For some years past the eastern end of the main hall had been exceedingly damp during winter and spring, and of late the south wall of the Ethnological Hall had shown the same fault. After consulting several authorities, it was decided to treat the exterior of the walls with Szerelmey stone liquid, which has been used with good results on several important public buildings at Home. The importation of the liquid and its proper application have proved rather costly, but the walls remained perfectly dry through last winter and spring.
An expenditure of £50 has been incurred during the year in the purchase of standard scientific works. Special attention is drawn to the publications of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, the Royal Society's Catalogue of Scientific Papers, and the recently issued Index Kewensis.
The Council have pleasure in alluding to a donation made by Mr. D. Rough, the first harbourmaster of Auckland, of seven water-colour sketches of incidents connected with the early days of Auckland, forming an interesting and welcome addition to the collection bearing on the early history of the colony.
Very disquieting rumours have been prevalent in Auckland respecting the position of matters on the Little Barrier Island. It has been stated that, so far from the island having been kept as a strict preserve for the rarer members of the New Zealand fauna, large numbers of birds have been slaughtered and sold—some to people in New Zealand, and others to collectors in England. It is difficult to understand how such a practice could be carried on without the knowledge of the caretaker, or the assistance of the Maoris resident on the island; but the rumours are so circumstantial, and of such independent origin, that they probably rest on a basis of truth. The matter was brought under the notice of Parliament, and an investigation was ordered; which, however, does not seem to have resulted in either proving or disproving the statements which have been made. It is satisfactory to know, however, that the Maoris residing on the island have been removed; for it cannot be denied that their presence was a continual source of danger, either from the risk that the high prices offered by dealers might tempt them to start collecting, or by keeping up a regular means of communication between the island and the mainland, and thus making the visits of collectors easy. The Council are of opinion that there should be no resident on the island except the caretaker, who should be a man of proved honesty and integrity, and who should be armed with full powers to prevent unauthorised persons from landing.
The balance-sheet shows that the total revenue, excluding the previous year's balance of £73 14s. 4d., was £877 13s. 3d. This is a somewhat smaller amount than was received during 1894–95, a temporary delay in the payment of one of the chief items of revenue having prevented its inclusion in the annual statement of accounts. From the same cause the receipts from the invested funds of the Costley bequest show a diminution, the amount for this year being £388 9s. 7d., against £474 12s. 2d. for the previous year. The rents and interest derived from the Museum endowment have yielded £340, almost exactly the same sum as that credited during 1894–95. Members' subscriptions amount to £132 6s., being slightly in excess of the previous year's receipts. The increase is gratifying in view of the fact that this source of income has progressively declined since 1882. The total expenditure has been £890 18s. 6d., leaving a credit balance of £60 9s. 1d. The invested funds of the society are in a satisfactory state. The total amount at the present time is £13,145, showing an increase of £300 during the year. With the exception of about £900, the whole of this sum is invested in mortgage on freehold property.