The annual general meeting was held at the Museum on the 19th November, 1920, when the annual report and balance-sheet were adopted.
Attendance at the monthly meetings has been fairly satisfactory, but, considering the trouble and expense that the society has gone to in providing lectures and papers, the interest of the public leaves something to be desired.
The society in October suffered a grievous loss by the death of Mr. Kenneth Wilson, M.A., who for nearly eleven years had acted as its Hon. Secretary and Treasurer. Mr. Wilson was one of the original founders of the Manawatu Philosophical Society, had occupied every office, and to his untiring and enthusiastic work is due the present satisfactory position of the society, and the finding of his successor will be a difficult matter.
Death also removed two other very old members in the persons of Mr. C. E. Waldegrave and Mr. T. Manson.
Six members resigned, in all cases due to removal from the district, and nine members were elected, the net result for the year being a gain of one in our membership. The financial position of the society is, on the whole, satisfactory, but in view of the heavy expenses attendant upon the holding of the New Zealand Science Congress in Palmerston North special efforts are necessary, and are being made, to meet these extraordinary conditions.
The Museum continues to expand, and the Council is seriously faced with the question of increased accommodation for exhibits; and, our available space being now
fully occupied, it has been found necessary to decline, though with great reluctance, some valuable exhibits. There is good reason to hope, however, that in the new library to be erected by the municipal authorities ample accommodation for the Museum will be provided, and deputations from the Council of the society touching this matter met with a most encouraging reception from the civic body. Meanwhile the fire risk in our present building is causing the Council much anxiety, and this risk, added to the fact of the congestion, were the points most dwelt upon by the speakers at the several deputations. The report of the Curator shows that the average daily attendance was twenty-two, and exhibits were received from thirteen different donors, to whom our best thanks are accorded.
Mr. R. H. F. Grace reported that the attendance at the Observatory has been fair, but no great advantage has been taken of the privilege of school-children attending as a class free; and in view of the very accessible situation of the Observatory and the awakened interest in astronomy their lack of appreciation of the facilities afforded is difficult to explain.
The telescope is in good repair, but the building requires repainting, and, if the opportunity offers, steps should be taken to secure a more modern instrument, as the one we have is not adapted for precise work, and we therefore cannot collaborate in the general work being done in New Zealand. The October eclipse of the moon was, unfortunately, not observable, owing to heavy clouds.
During the year nine general meetings were held, and the following papers were read: Colonel Porter, “Personal Reminiscences of Maori Customs and Superstitions”; Dr. H. Bett, “The Transfusion of Blood”; T. E. Sedgwick, “Population”; R. Edwards, “The Origin of Coal”; Johannes C. Andersen, “Bird-song and the Song-birds of New Zealand”; C. T. Salmon, “The Cosmic Cycle”; “T. Watson,” “The Climate as a Factor in Racial Characteristics”; Elsdon Best, “Ancient Maori Lore and Customs.”
Your Council commends to your attention the distinction accorded to Palmerston North in being chosen as the location of the 1921 Biennial Science Congress, and earnestly trusts that every effort will be put forth by members of the society and townspeople generally to make the gathering, which is fixed for the last week in January, a notable success.
Election of Officers for 1921.—President—Dr. D. H. Bett, M.B., Ch.B., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., F.R.C.S.E. Vice-Presidents—A. Whittaker: J. B. Gerrand. Council—Miss D. Wilson; R. Ross; R. Edwards; J. A. Colquhoun, M.Sc.; C. Taylor; E. Larcomb; H. J. Canton; A. H. M. Wright; J. Murray, M.A.; W. Park, F.R.H.S.; M. A. Elliot; M. H. Oram, M.A., LL.B. Officer in Charge of the Observatory—R. H. F. Grace. Honorary Secretary and Treasurer—C. T. Salmon. Honorary Auditor—W. E. Bendall, F.P.A.