Abstract of Annual Report.
Five new members have been elected during the year, the total number of members at the present time being 153.
The Council regret to announce the death of Lieut.-Colonel T. L. Murray, who has been connected with the Institute for more than twenty years, and who during the whole of that period has taken a steady and consistent interest in its affairs. For the last two years he has served as a member of the Council.
The total revenue of the working account, excluding the balance of £84 4s. 9d. brought from the previous year, has been £900 18s. 2d. Last year the amount was £899 2s. 10d., very nearly the same sum. Examining the separate items of the balance-sheet, it will be seen that the receipts from the invested funds of the Costley bequest have been £328 5s., against £365 16s. 3d. for 1898–99, the reduction being mainly due to a temporary delay in the payment of interest on one of the investments. The Museum endowment has yielded £444 1s. 4d., the amount for the previous year being £355; while the sum received for members' subscriptions stands at £118 13s., showing a reduction of £9 9s. The total expenditure has been £923 16s. 10d., leaving a balance of £61 6s. 1d. The Council have no change to report respecting the invested funds of the Institute, the amount being the same as last year—£13,590.
At the close of the year Mr. Percy Smith resigned his position as one of the trustees of the Institute, after holding it for fifteen years. The Council are anxious to put on record their appreciation of Mr. Smith's long-continued services, and of the careful attention that he has always given to the affairs of the Institute. It is pleasing to know that his name still remains on the roll of the Institute, and, though no longer serving it in an official capacity, he still has the intention of assisting in its work whenever opportunity occurs.
Nine meetings have been held during the year, at which twelve papers were read.
The register of the Museum shows that 13,230 people entered the building on Sundays, the total for the whole year being 49,082.
The chief progress made by the Museum has been in the ethnographical department. Mr. Elsdon Best, of Ruatahuna, has forwarded a second collection made by him among the Maoris living near Lake Waikaremoana, which contains several articles not previously represented in the Museum. A beautiful toki-hohoupu, or battle-axe, with elaborately carved wooden handle of great age and perfect preservation, has been obtained by purchase, together with several rare bone and greenstone ornaments. During a visit to Rarotonga the Curator collected a series of 132 articles illustrating the ethnology of that island; and through the kind offices of the Rev. Mr. Cullen, seconded by Colonel Gudgeon, two of the celebrated carved ceremonial axes from Mangaia have been secured.
An interesting exchange has been received from the Bishop Museum at Honolulu, in the shape of two of the rare kahilis, or wands, elaborately decorated with feather-work. Through the kind co-operation of Mr. W.S. Laurie, of this city, a very acceptable collection of mound-builders' pottery from the Mississippi Valley has been obtained from Dr. Bushnell, of St. Louis. There have also been some minor additions, which it is impossible to mention here. In the zoological department the most noteworthy accession has been an almost perfect moa skeleton, purchased from Mr. Kingsley, of Nelson. It has a special value from being the type of Captain Hutton's new species, Dinornis torosus. Two remarkably good mounted specimens of Echidna and Ornithorhynchus have been presented by Mrs. Calder, of this city; and several rare New Zealand bird skins have been purchased. The want of a resident taxidermist is severely felt. Among the miscellaneous additions special mention is. made of a valuable timber exhibit presented by the Leyland O'Brien Timber Company. It consists of a complete section of a kauri-tree 6 ft. in diameter, supporting a framework containing panels of the chief ornamental woods of the colony. It affords an excellent illustration of the value of our timber trees for furniture or decorative woodwork.
The most noteworthy addition to the library has been a complete set of the publications of the United States Bureau of Ethnology, in sixteen volumes quarto.
The management of Little Barrier Island as a reserve for the preservation of the avifauna of New Zealand still remains in the hands of the Institute, the Government contributing an annual grant of £200 to cover the expenses in connection with it. The Curator, Mr. Shakespear, reports that matters are in a satisfactory condition on the island, and that most of the native birds appear to be increasing in numbers now that they are not in any way molested. A short time ago he detected two men at work on the island gum-digging. He at once turned them off, and reported the occurrence. It is the intention of the Crown Lands Department to proceed against the men as soon as they can be found. With this exception, no attempt has been made to land upon the island, or to interfere with it in any way.