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Volume 42, 1909

Otago Institute.

Seventh Meeting: 12th October, 1909.

Professor Park, President, in the chair.

New Member.—Dr. Sydney Allen.

Papers.—1. “The Making of a Concordance,” by W. H. Trimble.

2. “The Fascination of Egypt,” by Dr. D. Colquhoun.

3. “The Reclothing and Repeopling of New Zealand after the Glacial Period,” by Professor James Park.

The following is a summary of the President's closing remarks on the glaciation discussion:—

The author, replying to the criticisms of Mr. G. M. Thomson and Dr. Benham, stated that his belief that the greater portion of the South Island, as we now it, was covered with a more or less continuous ice-sheet, resulting from the confluent glaciers descending from the alpine highlands, was based on the existence of the great coastal Taieri moraine; the glacial deposits at Waikouanti and lower Waitaki Valley; the coastal loess at Oamaru, Timaru, Banks Peninsula, and north Canterbury; the glacial drifts on the shores of Golden Bay; and the extensive morainic deposits in the maritime littoral of west Nelson and Westland. If the glaciation was caused by elevation, a view endorsed alike by geologists and biologists, then the fact should not be overlooked that the uplift would unite the two Islands and establish land connection with the subantartic and other outlying islands situated on the New Zealand marine plateau. Pleistocene New Zealand would then possess continental dimensions with an area probably exceeding 400,000 square miles in extent, of which it is estimated that not more than 75,000 square miles of the existing land was covered with ice. Life could not exist on the glaciated portion; but since secular uplift is excessively slow, seldom amounting to more than a few inches in a century, the climatic changes would be correspondingly slow, which would thus permit the fauna and flora to migrate to the unglaciated area. In the Northern Hemisphere the slow advance of the northern ice-sheet forced the existing life to migrate to the south, whence it returned on the recession of the ice. This is obviously what took place in New Zealand. Mr. Thomson and Dr. Benham had seemingly overlooked the significance of the elevation, which provided a safe retreat for the existing animal and vegetable life. On the recession of the ice, due to the gradual subsidence of the land, the life returned to its present habitat. And as the first effect of the elevation would be to establish a land bridge between the two Islands, so the last effect of the subsidence would be the disseverance of the Islands. Mr. Thomson and Dr. Benham have contended that insufficient time has elapsed since the separation of the Islands for the differentiation of certain species of plants and animals. The former stated that one effect of the glaciation of the Northern Hemisphere was to produce a deciduous type among the woody plants, and the same effect he thought should have been produced by glaciation among the evergreen flora of New Zealand. This contention must completely fail, as Mr. Thomson has overlooked the fact that the deciduous type did not come in with the Glacial Period, but appeared in Europe and America two geological epochs before that time. It merely retreated before the advancing ice, and returned as the ice receded northward. It is not yet ascertained what time has elapsed since the close of the Pleistocene. Moreover, there is no evidence whatever that the differentiation of the New Zealand species did not take place before the Glacial Epoch, as did that of the deciduous plant and animal life in the Northern Hemisphere. Dr. Benham's statement that there is no evidence that a period of greater cold existed in the Southern Hemisphere during the Pleistocene is opposed to the views of Haast, Hutton, and McKay; and contrary to the conception of Darwin, Dana, Agassiz, Geikie, Prestwich, Chamberlin, Salisbury, and Gregory, all of whom believe that the Southern Hemisphere suffered a period of glaciation contemporaneously with the Pleistocene glaciation of the Northern Hemisphere.

Exhibit.—Dr. Pickerill exhibited a series of Maori skulls, and drew attention to some pathological conditions of their teeth, especially to the peculiar rotation of the first molars through 900, by loosening of the roots by abscess.

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Eighth Meeting: 16th November, 1909.

Professor Waters in the chair.

Paper.—1. “The Geology of Mangaia,” by Professor Marshall.

Address.—Professor Benham gave an address on “The Fiftieth Anniversary of Darwin's Origin of Species.’”

After referring to the manifold genius of the man, as evidenced in his valuable contributions to geology, zoology, and botany, in addition to his works on evolution, the lecturer reviewed briefly the essential features of more recent theories, such as the mutation theory of De Vries, Mendelism, Weissmannism, and their relation to Darwinism; and pointed out that the last theory was still predominant, the others being of subsidiary importance, though valuable in the light they shed on evolution.

Exhibits.—1. The Chairman drew the attention of the meeting to specimens of the plates about to be issued by the Government to illustrate Mr. Cheeseman's “Manual of the Flora of New Zealand.”

2. He also showed examples of photos and charts relating to the Messina earthquake, which are being published by the Italian Photographical Society.

Ninth Meeting: 7th December, 1909.

Professor Park, President, in the chair.

Exhibit.—Professor Benham exhibited and made remarks on a series of rock and other specimens from the Antarctic presented to the Museum by Sir Ernest Shackleton.

The collection included portions of erratic boulders from Cape Royds, the winter quarters of the expedition; pumice, kenyte, and feldspar-crystals from the summit of Mount Erebus; “fungus peat” from a fresh-water lake, &c.

Professor Marshall pointed out the especial interest of the feldspar-crystals.

Papers.—1. “Some Evidences of Glaciation on the Shores of Cook Strait and Golden Bay, Nelson,” by Professor Park.

2. “Further Notes on the Glaciation of the North Island,” by Professor Park.

3. “The Coalfields of New Zealand,” by Professor Park.

4. “The Discovery of Moa-remains on Stewart Island,” by Professor Benham.

The bones found belong to Euryapteryx crassa.

5. “Note on a Species of Hydra new to New Zealand,” by Professor Beham. (See p. 128.)

Governors.—The election of two Governors of the New Zealand Institute resulted in the retiring members, Professor Benham and Mr. G. M. Thomson, being re-elected.

Annual Meeting: 7th December, 1909.

Professor Park, President, in the chair.

Annual Report.

The Council has met twelve times for the transaction of business of the Institute, of which the following is a summary:—

The Unclassified Societies Act, under which the Institute in 1901, was repealed in 1908, and a new Act was placed upon the statue-book. Owing to the multiplicity of returns required thereby, it was resolved not to register this Institute.

During the year special efforts have been made, by means of committees at each of the four centres, to promote a memorial to the late Sir James Hector. Your Council contributed ten guineas to this fund. It is a matter for regret that so small a response was made by the people of Otago and Southland to this appeal for money to found a

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fellowship for original work in those sciences which Sir James Hector had done so much to forward by his own researches.

Your Council also contributed a sum of five guineas to a fund established by the Polynesian Society for the purpose of publishing works on the anthropology and ethnology of Polynesia that are too large for the journal of the society.

In order to make the libraries of the affiliated societies of the New Zealand Institute of greater use to scientific workers, it was resolved, in response to a circular received from the President of that Institute, that the Otago Institute should specialise in books relating to general zoology and to geology, quite apart from the magazines and periodicals already subscribed to. Further, it was agreed that books in the library of each institute should be accessible to members of any of the other affiliated societies.

Letters were sent to Lieutenant (now Sir) E. Shackleton and to Professor David congratulating them on the excellent work carried out so successfully in the Antarctic regions during the visit of the expedition of 1907–9.

The Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, in conference with the Canterbury Acclimatisation Society, has drawn up a number of recommendations in regard to the more effective protection of our native fauna. This is a matter in which our Institute has always taken a prominent part, and your Council had had under its consideration certain proposals towards this end. However, instead of acting on the lines suggested, the Council will give their hearty support to the recommendations of the Canterbury societies, and will take steps to bring the matter under the notice of our members of Parliament and of the Minister of Internal Affairs.

As the Proceedings of the institutes are now published at intervals during the session, and have been distributed to members, it is unnecessary to recapitulate the work done. Suffice it to recall the fact that the subject of the glaciation of New Zealand has led to one of the most important and prolonged discussions we have had for many years. Five evenings were devoted to the matter. Professor Park dealt with it in his presidential address, and read three other papers, to which Dr. Marshall, Mr. G. M. Thomson, and Dr. Benham offered various criticisms from several aspects of the question. The discussion has already been published in the Press and in the Proceedings.

Special addresses have been delivered by Professor Waters, Dr. Colquhoun, and Dr. Benham, each of which was of the nature of a summary of our knowledge on subjects of interest to scientific people.

In addition, sixteen papers of a more or less technical character, involving original research, have been read or presented for publication in the Transactions.

At the beginning of the session your Council invited Lieutenant E Shackleton to come to Dunedin and deliver a lecture on his explorations in the Antarctic. The lecture proved to be of the highest interest, and the most popular public lecture ever given under the auspices of the Institute. It had been resolved that the proceeds should be handed over to the fund for the erection of a students' hall at the University; but as Lieutenant Shackleton expressed a wish that a small contribution should be made to the Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children, your Council allotted £15 to that society. However, after receiving a deputation from the committee, the donation was increased to £30, leaving £94 for the students' hall.

In pursuance with a custom of the last few years, Professor Chilton, of Christchurch, was invited to deliver an address. His lecture on the “Subantarctic Islands” proved an extremely valuable and interesting summary of zoo-geographical facts, indicating the presence of an extension of the existing Antarctic Continent.

At the request of your Council, Messrs. Fenwick and Cohen agreed to give some account of their reminiscences of the Imperial Press Conference. The lecture was not so well attended as the subject deserved.

During the current year fifteen new members have joined, and nine have been removed by death, transference, or resignation. The total membership now stands at 124 A considerable number of books was added to the library.

The balance-sheet shows the total receipts for the year to be £332 11s. 5d. (including a balance from previous year of £54 9s. 9d.). The expenditure amounted to £266 5s 5d., leaving a balance in hand of £66 6s. In addition, there is a sum of £240 on deposit.

Election of Officers for 1910.—President—Professor D. B. Waters, A.O.S.M.; Vice-Presidents—Professor J. Park, Dr. T. M. Hocken, F.L.S.; Council—A. Bathgate, Professor Benham, D.Sc., F.R.S., W. Fels, Professor J. Malcolm, Professor P. Marshall, M.A., D.Sc., F.G.S., Professor H.P. Pickerill, M.B., B.D.S., G.M. Thomson, M.P., F.L.S.; Hon. Treasurer—J. C. Thomson; Hon. Secretary—Dr. R. V. Fulton; Hon. Librarian—Dr. Benham; Hon. Auditor—D. Brent, M.A.