Seven meetings were held during the year 1917, at which the following lectures and papers were read:—(11th June) “Berlin, Bagdad, and the Balkans—Germany's Eastern Ambitions,” by Professor J. P. Grossmann: (9th July) “The Kermadec Islands, their Plant and Bird Life,” by Mr. W. R. B. Oliver: (6th August) “Some Present Aspects of the War,” by the Rev. W. G. Monckton: (3rd September) “Natural Sources of Power, their Importance to New Zealand,” by Mr. F. E. Powell, C.E.: (1st October) “Heredity,” by Professor A. P. W. Thomas, E.L.S.: (19th November) “The Civic Spirit of Roman Architecture,” by Mr. T. G. Price: (11th December) “A New Species of Hypolepis,” by Mr. H. Carse; “The Extraordinary Rainfall of 1915–1916,” by Mr. H. B. Devereux; “On the Distribution of the Pentatonic Scale in Britain,” by Professor J. C. Johnson; “On the Sporophyte of Rhipogonum scandens,” by Miss A. C. Tizard (communicated by Professor J. C. Johnson); “Descriptions of New Native Flowering-plants,” by Mr. D. Petrie.
At the annual meeting (25th February, 1918) the annual report and audited financial statement was read to the meeting, and ordered to be printed and distributed among the members.
The report which the Council now presents to the members marks the completion of the fiftieth year of the existence of the society. At the conclusion of such a period it is natural that the governing body, while paying full attention to the requirements of the present, should also concern itself with the demands of the future; or, in other words, take into consideration the subsequent aims and development of the Institute and Museum. The first part of the report will therefore contain the customary account of the activities of the society during the past year, while in the second will be given a brief statement of those views regarding future development that have been discussed at various meetings of the Council, and also the final conclusions that have been arrived at.
Members.—Mainly through a special canvass undertaken by the Hon. E. Mitchelson and another member of the Council, no less than eighty-eight new members have been elected during the year. On the other hand, twenty-nine names have been withdrawn—fourteen from death, ten from resignation, and five from non-payment of subscription for more than two consecutive years. The net gain is thus fifty-nine, the number on the roll at the present time being 450.
Finance.—Full information respecting the financial position of the society is given in the balance-sheets appended to the report; but the following brief synopsis may be useful. The total revenue of the Working Account, after deducting the balance in hand at the beginning of the year, has been £1,827 16s. 7d. This compares favourably with the amount for the previous year, which was £1,741 12s. 6d., showing an increase of £86 4s. ld. Examining the various items, it will be seen that the members' subscriptions have yielded £420, being an advance of £46 4s. on last year's figures. The receipts from the Museum Endowment, consisting of rents and interest, have amounted to £713 12s. 11d., evidencing a slight decrease. On the other hand, the receipts from the invested funds of the Costley Bequest, which have yielded £453 18s. ld., are slightly larger than last year's amount. The remaining items call for no special remark. The expenditure has amounted to £1,763 11s. 4d.
Proposals suggesting a reform of the New Zealand Institute were submitted for the consideration of the Council by the Wellington Philosophical Society. The most important of these involved changes in the membership of the Institute which, if carried out in their original shape, would have injuriously affected most of the incorporated societies. The proposals were considered at the recent meeting of the Board of Governors in Wellington, and it is now regarded as probable that most of the objectionable features will be eliminated.
The committee appointed by the Council to consider the co-ordination of science and industry, whose first report appeared last year, has continued its labours during the present session, and has prepared a second communication. This, together with reports from other committees set up by the various branches of the New Zealand Institute, has been placed before a general committee of the Institute sitting in Wellington, which, it is understood, will shortly forward a full statement of its views to the Government.
Museum.—With the exception of a short period necessarily devoted to cleaning and rearrangement, the Museum has been open to the public daily throughout the year. The attendance has been excellent, although not quite equal to that of the three years 1914 to 1916, the total number of visitors being 87,350.
Considerable progress has been made in the Museum during the year. The numerous recent additions to the Maori collections have rendered it necessary to rearrange a large part of the contents of the Maori Hall. The work is not yet completed, but sufficient has been done to make the collections much more intelligible to visitors, and more readily inspected. A plate-glass show-case has been provided for the fine series of taiahas, battle-axes, & c., in the possession of the Museum. These are now much more worthily exhibited, and the space they formerly occupied has supplied accommodation for other articles.
As detailed in last year's report, the completion of the new mineral-room, and the transfer to it of many specimens formerly exhibited in the gallery of the main hall, will provide some additional space for the representation of the New Zealand fauna. It is intended to utilize the table-cases on the south side of the gallery for the reception of the New Zealand shells, and a considerable amount of preliminary work has been done, such as the cleaning and repainting of the cases, the preparation of the trays and tablets for the specimens, cataloguing, sorting, & c. It is hoped to commence the actual arrangement in a short time. In the taxidermist's department Mr. Griffin has nearly completed a very realistic group illustrating the breeding-habits of the black-fronted tern, one of the most graceful of New Zealand birds. The group, which has cost a large amount of patient work and preparation, is of an entirely different character to those already exhibited, and will be generally admired.
The additions and donations received during the year have been numerous and valuable, as will be seen from the list appended to the report, but only the more important can be mentioned here. In the ethnographical department special reference should be made to three historical bone meres, purchased and presented to the Museum by the Hon. A. M. Myers, Mr. Henry Brett, and Mr. R. H. Abbott. Two of these were formerly the property of the celebrated chieftain Rewi Maniapoto, whose name will always be remembered in connection with the Maori War and the defence of Orakau against our troops. The third belonged to the well-known Urewera warrior Hauwai.
Mr. H. E. Partridge has donated ten plaster bas-reliefs of the busts of Maoris and Hawanans, modelled from life by the well-known sculptor Allan Hutchinson. These will be most useful to the Museum when attempts are made to prepare modelled groups of Maoris engaged in their old-time avocations.
Another valuable addition consists of ten limestone slabs bearing pre-Maori rock-paintings or pictographs, obtained by Dr. Elmore, an American scientist, from certain rock shelters in North Otago. The cost of excavating the slabs, together with others intended for the Otago Museum, was borne by the Otago and Auckland Institutes. Although these pictographs, together with others in Canterbury, have been known for many years, they have not attracted the notice that they certainly deserve.
Single articles of note consist of a remarkably fine and delicately carved charm, or mauri, presented by Mr. F. R. Hutchinson; a large and beautifully polished stone adze, contributed by Mr. R. W. Duder; and one of the rare neck-ornaments carved from the teeth of the sperm-whale, donated by Mr. Percy Monk.
In last year's report the Council stated that arrangements had been made with the Gizeh Museum, Cairo, for a first instalment of Egyptian antiquities. The collection has since arrived, and has been placed in a special show-case. It contains about a hundred examples, the most interesting being a series of vases, bowls, libation-vessels, & c., discovered by Dr. Quibell in an 11th dynasty tomb at Sakkarah, near Memphis. The collection forms a very welcome acquisition, and it is hoped that arrangements may be made for other consignments.
Mr. Henry Shaw, whose previous gifts of Japanese porcelain, bronzes, ivories, & c., are still fresh in the memory of the Institute, has made an additional presentation of Satsuma and Kioto porcelain, comprising more than fifty articles, together with a few temporarily lent. A special case has been provided, in which the specimens are now exhibited. The thanks of the Museum have been voted to Mr. Shaw for this renewed instance of liberality.
Dr. C. J. Wood, Bishop of Melanesia, has presented a remarkably good outrigger canoe, 29 ft. in length, from the Island of Tikopia, in the eastern part of the Solomon Group. Dr. Wood had previously contributed two fine canoes of different types to the Museum, and his present gift is valuable as a help towards forming a comparative series.
In the natural-history department, although a considerable number of small additions have been received, no collections of any size have been added, apart from those obtained by the staff of the Museum. It is quite evident that in the future, so far as many classes of specimens are concerned, the Museum must rely on the activities of its own officers, or on trained collectors engaged by it.
Library.—The undoubted risk of loss through submarines, and the greatly increased charges for freight, insurance, & c., have compelled the Council to suspend the purchase of books for the present. It has been decided, however, to keep up the subscriptions to all magazines and serial publications at present on the society's list.
The Council has pleasure in acknowledging the donation by Mr R. Logan of a copy of Rothschild's costly and magnificent work on “Extinct Birds.”
Development of the Museum and the Need for a New Site.—The summary just given of the work performed by the Institute during the year affords many evidences of progress and many proofs of the increasing interest taken by the citizens in both the Museum and library. But regularly increasing donations and additions, however gratifying they may be as proofs of public confidence and support, are every year increasing the difficulty is housing the collections and exhibiting them to the public. They accentuate the one main fact hindering the development of the Museum and the efforts of its guardians to place it on a higher level—want of room. And this want is not confined to one branch of the Museum, but exists in every department. In addition, it effectually prevents any expansion of the present aims of the institution. There are many activities usually associated with a well-ordered and progressive Museum that are excluded from the Auckland Museum through want of room.
Much consideration has been given to the matter by the Council, and several meetings have been held. It soon became obvious that the question for decision was simply this: Can sufficient accommodation, with due regard to future needs, be obtained on the present site; and, if not, what site is best adapted for the purpose? Investigation soon proved that the unbuilt-upon portion of the existing site, with its almost precipitous slope, was likely to prove both inconvenient and expensive, while it was not large enough for present requirements, to say nothing of future needs.
Having arrived at the conclusion that the removal of the Museum from its present position was inevitable, it became necessary for the Council to search for a new locality. In doing this, it was recognized that the new Museum should occupy a central position, and should possess the fundamental advantages of room for future expansion, decreased risk of fire, and freedom from dust and smoke. Further, it was admitted that, as no public Museum in Australia or New Zealand has had to provide its own site, there was no reason why the Auckland Museum should be treated in a different manner.
After an examination of those sites—by no means numerous—that complied with the conditions mentioned above, a meeting of the Council was held to decide which was the most suitable. After full discussion, and after the reasons in favour of changing the site had again been reviewed, the following resolution was moved by the Hon. E. Mitchelson, seconded by Mr. C. J. Parr, M.P., and unanimously adopted: “That this Council is of opinion that the most suitable site upon which to erect a permanent Museum is that part of the Auckland Domain known as Observatory Hill; and that the Auckland City Council be requested to assent to this proposition, with the view of asking Parliament for authority and power to carry out the project.”
This expression of the views of the Institute was placed before the City Council at a meeting held on the 7th February. It was supported by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, who respectively proposed and seconded the following resolution, which was unanimously adopted: “That the request of the Council of the Auckland Institute and Museum for the permission of the Auckland City Council to place a Museum building upon Observatory Hill, in the Auckland Domain, be granted, subject to the Council of the Institute promoting the necessary validating legislation. Further, the Council of the Institute to make provision for the City Council being represented on their body as follows: Mayor of Auckland ex officio member of the Council of the Institute, and two others to be nominated by the Auckland City Council.” It is a satisfaction to the Council of the Institute to receive such a sympathetic assurance of co-operation from the City Council, and it is hoped that such friendly relations may long exist.
The Council of the Institute has approved of the terms prescribed by the City Council, and is taking steps to promote the necessary legislation as soon as practicable in order to enable the proposed new building to be erected within the Auckland Domain.
Election of Officers for 1918.—President—Mr. J. H. Gunson, Mayor of Auckland. Vice-Presidents—Hon. E. Mitchelson; Mr. C. J. Parr, C.M.G., M.P. Council—Professor C. W. Egerton, Mr. J. Kenderdine, Mr. T. W. Leys, Mr. E. V. Miller, Mr. T. Peacock, Mr. D. Petrie, Professor H. W. Segar, Professor A. P. W. Thomas, Mr. J. H. Upton, Mr. H. E. Vaile, Professor F. P. Worley. Trustees—Mr. T. Peacock, Mr. J. Reid, Professor A. P. W. Thomas, Mr. J. H. Upton, Mr. H. E. Vaile. Secretary and Curator—Mr. T. F. Cheeseman. Auditor—Mr. S. Gray.