Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 29, 1896
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The following gentlemen were nominated as honorary members of the New Zealand Institute, there being two vacancies on the roll: Professor Horatio Hale, of Clinton, Ontario, philologist to Wilkes's expedition; Mr. B. Meyrick, B.A., of Marlborough College, Wiltshire, England, for New Zealand Micro-lepidoptera.

Papers.—1. “Polynesian Migrations” (Chapters VI. and VII., Conclusion), by Joshua Rutland; communicated by E. Tregear, F.R.G.S. (Transactions, p. 37.)

Mr. Tanner said it was strange that these double boats could live in the open ocean. Why should not these natives, who in many ways were so clever, have progressed more than they had done? The carvings in Easter Island were most wonderful. There must have been something like priestcraft at work.

Major-General Schaw said the native boats at Ceylon were built on the same principle as those referred to; they could sail either way, but preferred the windward. They went long distances, and sailed like birds.

Mr. Travers was surprised that Mr. Rutland had made no mention of the monuments in the ancient cities of Central America, which were similar to those in Egypt. He mentioned that the French had discovered the Rosetta stone, which was the key to the reading of the Egyptian hieroglyphics. But there did not appear to be any clue to the origin of these wonderful carvings on Easter Island. He said there was a great field open for discovery on these Polynesian Islands. He mentioned the distribution of plants as most important, and he hoped full collections would he made. The paper was most suggestive and interesting.

Major-General Schaw added that it was strange to find such wonderful monuments and carvings on such a small island; might it not be the remains of a much larger island, or continent

Mr. Tregear said he had been very pleased to be able to bring so suggestive and valuable a paper as Mr. Rutland's before the Society. There were several points on which ha did not hold the same opinion as Mr. Rutland, and it was probable that others would also disagree, but this fact only showed the great use of starting lines of thought on this subject which would provoke others to write papers from these texts. He (Mr. Tregear) did not agree with Mr. Rutland's speaking of the Maori as belonging to the Malay family; ethnologically the Malay and Polynesian were of totally distinct types, and this was now generally recognised. Why the Polynesians did not use pottery, when they were in contact with islanders who did so, was one of the puzzles of the Pacific, and, like the absence of the bow and arrow as war-weapons among the light-brown people of Oceania, had not yet found explanation. The Pacific was full of unsolved problems and mysteries. The greatest of these was Easter Island. The fact of the existence of great statues on Easter Island, of a pyramid in Tahiti, of huge walls on Ponape and Strang Island only

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showed that in ancient days much labour had been expended by some persons on stone-work, but did not by any means bear out a theory as to the common race. He (Mr. Tregear) was fortunately able to show to the meeting photographs of the different scenes alluded to by Mr. Rutland. The great temple of Boroboro, in Java, was indeed one of the wonders of the world, and was, as Alfred Wallace had said, far more wonderful than the Pyramids. It was the most gigantic effort in the realm of human labour and human skill. If we turned from this picture to those showing the walls of Ponape we were at the other extremity of the land of art. In Ponape we found walls built of huge basaltic stones, stacked in layers exactly like stacks of firewood. Only foresters used to dealing with fallen logs would ever dream of mural erections like these. Then, at the other boundary of the South Seas, on solitary Easter Island, they again came upon statuary, but statuary of a unique and archaic description. Figures whose features resembled those of no living race; figures made for no apparent purpose except that of being ranged in a long seaward line as “gods of boundaries,” watching the ocean from that small barren island. That Easter Island was the last remnant of the mythical sunken continent sometimes alluded to as “Lemuria” is improbable. If a continent had sunk, only the tops of snow-clad peaks would have remained above the water, and these would have been for a long time uninhabitable by men. There was little doubt but that there was extensive navigation among the South Sea Islands before Europeans came, for the double canoe or outrigged canoe was not only one of the fastest but the safest of vessels That no trace of palæolithic man had been found yet in Central America was too small a point on which to hang the theory that the high civilisation necessary to produce the architecture of Palengone and other places had been introduced full-grown. Egypt was for a long time thought to be also without evidence of palæolithic occupation, but later researches had resulted in the discovery of chipped-stone implements, &c. So also Central America, when explored as Egypt had been explored, might yield up the tools and weapons of her earliest men. He believed that these papers of Mr. Rutland's would set several persons writing on portions of the subject next year, and he hoped to be able himself to give some information and to receive much information in papers originated by Mr. Rutland's able series of articles.


“On the Plants grown at ‘The Gums,’ Taita,” by T. Mason. (Transactions, p. 393.)

Mr. Travers said the lists of plants accompanying this paper would prove most useful to those persons who were engaged in planting in this country.