Address Forwarded by his Excellency the Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, to the Inaugural Meeting of the Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
To the Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Assembled at Wellington, 16th May, 1934.
I am much disappointed that public engagements in the Auckland District will prevent my attending the inaugural meeting of the Council of “The Royal Society of New Zealand” (hitherto called “The New Zealand Institute), of which I am privileged to be the Honorary Patron, and partaking with its members of the hospitality so kindly accorded to them by the Wellington Philosophical Society. During my happy sojourn in New Zealand for the last four years no vicarious duty as the King's representative has caused me more sincere satisfaction than the intimation of His Majesty's approval of the new designation of the Dominion's chief organisation for the promotion of science within its borders and the utilisation for the enrichment and happiness of mankind of its multiform intellectual output. The New Zealand Institute was founded in 1867, and in this, the sixty-seventh year of its useful existence, it becomes revitalised under a title more befitting its status and its record of worthy achievement. No Society within the Empire has during the last half century more richly earned the praenomen of “Royal.” Its printed Transactions, as well as its Natural Science Bulletins, have been a material contribution to the world's storehouse of scientific knowledge. Its Fellowship (held by 48 of the Dominion's most prominent scientists) is not lightly conferred. It is evidence of scientific achievement of a high order, and is so regarded in other parts of the world. It has numbered within its ranks, and still numbers, men of outstanding ability, industry, and genius, who, in various branches of scientific investigation, have conferred untold benefits upon their fellow-countrymen and upon that wider fraternity of searchers after accurate knowledge among whom international frontiers present no barrier of sympathetic intercourse and co-operation. It can claim, inter alios, as one of its compatriot members Ernest Lord Rutherford, the leading scientist of the British Empire, if not of the world. Science is, as I have indicated, a consolidating and harmonising influence in a world racked by international controversies and disrupted, at least temporarily, by fissiparous economic nationalism. Science is often blamed by a myopic and ungrateful public for the world's economic maladjustment and malaise, oblivious of, or deliberately blind to, the fact that Science has proved the chief source and mainspring of man's material prosperity in ever-increasing
intensity with successive decades of its application to man's changing and exacting requirements. If the application of science to human industrial operations has created a surplus of productive wealth with resulting human impoverishment, the fault lies, not with the scientist, but with the economists, the financiers, the industrialists, and, above all, the statesmen of the world, who, in consequence of ignoring, and failing to utilise to the full, the aid of Science in solving the world's social and economic problems, are now battling with destitution in a world of superfluity, and by fostering national economic isolation are rendering precarious the foundations of world peace. To starve knowledge (and especially that clearly ascertained and systematised knowledge which we designate Science) or to stint it of its due reward is to court national disaster. If Science, in the inevitable evolution of human genius, has contributed to economic adversity, it is because it has been applied in part only to the solution of human problems, and certain it is that only by the further application of Science in all its ramifications and by a far more generous and enlightened recognition of its beneficent potentialities by the world's rulers will effective remedies for current human disorders be found. It is for these reasons, and also because, in a geographical sphere of unsurpassed natural loveliness and hitherto undisclosed and intriguing natural secrets, scientific knowledge is providing its mentally alert inhabitants of all classes with a fuller and more radiant life, that I offer my most sincere patronal salutations and congratulations to the Royal Society of New Zealand, which has for considerably over half a century, under its humble name of the New Zealand Institute, acted as a beacon of intellectual enlightenment in this isolated land of immeasurable opportunities for industrial and cultural expansion, and my earnest hope that under its new appellation it may not only augment its already high prestige, but enjoy to an ever-increasing extent the confidence and respect of the community at large.
Vale et salve.
Believe me, Gentlemen, to be always your most sincere wellwisher and colleague,
Auckland.,14th May, 1934.