Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 34, 1901
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– 562 –

Sir James Hector exhibited a map of New Zealand, especially prepared to show the distribution of moa remains, in which some hundreds of limestone caves in both Islands were indicated.

– 563 –

He said he remembered his own surprise in the early sixties, when first exploring such caves, at finding, as Mr. McLeod had done, bones of sheep and cattle mixed with fossils of a period generally supposed to be remote. The animals had fallen into the cave, and flowing water had carried the bones into strange company. The caves at Martinborough were geologically recent; others, notably at Takaka, in Nelson, were of far more ancient date. Hundreds of these caves had never been properly examined, and they were full of valuable material for the scientific investigator. He was glad that one of our members had devoted serious attention to the subject. Some of the secret caves of the Maoris in the North Island in particular would hereafter be mines of treasure for the archæologist. For ages the natives had been in the habit not only of depositing therein the bones of their great chiefs, priests, and warriors, but their most treasured heirlooms, in the way of greenstone ornaments, &c., which were practically imperishable, and were the sole remaining relics of native art of prehistoric times.