John Ernest Holloway (1881–1945).
Holloway was born in Christchurch in 1881, and educated at Nelson College, where he distinguished himself both as a scholar and as a cricketer. Perhaps more influential than his schooling in shaping his career was his home life, for his father was both a keen churchman and an enthusiastic amateur microscopist and naturalist. Service to his church and to his science governed the son's activities throughout his life. Entering Auckland University, Holloway gained his M.Sc. in 1904. He also entered St. John's College to prepare for service in the Anglican Church. At Auckland he came under the influence of the late Professor A. P. W. Thomas, who had published a pioneering paper on the prothallus of Phylloglossum in 1901, and was led to the developmental studies on the Lycopodiaceae that were to remain his major botanical interest for the rest of his life.
After periods of work as assistant curate at Hawera and Wanganui, Holloway went with his wife to England, where he worked actively in parish duties, first in London and then in Barnsley. Work on the fossil plants of the South Yorkshire coalfields deepened and widened his interest in his chosen botanical sphere, and he became a student of evolutionary processes, making a remarkable collection of fossils from the “coal-balls.”
Returning to New Zealand, his experience in Yorkshire served him in good stead both in his church and in his botanical work. Isolated as he was, for a time he contemplated abandoning botanical research, but, fortunately, was greatly encouraged by the late Dr. L. Cockayne, and persevered till he became a foremost worker in New Zealand and a world-wide authority in his special sphere.
Holloway became vicar of Oxford in 1912, of Hokitika in 1916, and of Leeston in 1922. While carrying out his parish duties with earnest care, he yet found time to seize all opportunities to further his researches. These were now gaining their due recognition, and he was awarded his doctorate by the New Zealand University in 1919, the Hutton Medal of our Society in 1920, the Fellowship in 1921, and the Hector Medal in 1930. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1937. During 1939 and 1940 he was President of our Society, and his eloquent addresses on “Science for the People” and “The Essential Spirit of Science” will not easily be forgotten.
Relinquishing his more active service in the cause of the Anglican Church, Holloway became Lecturer on Botany at the Otago University in 1923, a position he filled till a few months before his death on 6th September, 1945. One of his students has voiced the feelings of all in saying: “He never spared himself, and always spent long hours in the laboratory with students of all stages. He had tutorials for
backward students and tutorials for Honours candidates. Then there were always a few people who had to fit in laboratory study at odd hours; they missed nothing for not being able to attend with the rest of the class.”
The fundamental importance of his major contributions to botanical science is made abundantly clear to the student of such a work as Bower's “Primitive Land Plants,” and is fully appreciated by workers in the same field the world over. It will suffice to remind ourselves of the titles of some of his publications: “Studies in the New Zealand Species of the Genus Lycopodium” (1916–19), “The Prothallus and Young Plant of Tmesipteris” (1918–21), “Studies in the New Zealand Hymenophyllaceae” (1923–24), “The Experimental Cultivation of the Gametophyte of Hymenophyllum pulcherrimum and of Trichomanes reniforme” (1930), “The Gametophyte of Phylloglossum drummondii” (1935), “The Embryo and Gametophyte of Psilotum triquetrum” (1938–39), “The Gametophyte, Embryo, and developing Sporophyte of Cardiomanes reniforme” (1944). Unhasty, untiring, exact, Holloway's work remains a model for those seeking to fill the gaps his untimely death robbed him of filling himself.
To that devoted helpmate, his wife, he attributed himself much of the success that he achieved, and on remembering what he accomplished, we pay tribute to her loving care of a man great in ideals as of achievement. His Church will rank him as one of their worthies, never seeking the limelight, always seeking to extend the helping hand to parishioner and student alike.
One who was honoured by his friendship from the days of study and cricket at Nelson College, through the arduous years caring for the wide Hokitika parish, till those last exacting days in his uphill struggle as a teacher and researcher at the Otago University, feels that he cannot pay better tribute than to say that Holloway endeavoured with all his powers to follow the principles that he set out in his Presidential Address in 1941: “Every individual should accept as a duty laid upon him the task of emphasizing whatever seems to him to be hopeful and of permanent value. The pursuit of truth demands a zeal for accuracy in investigation … The pursuit of truth demands also perfect sincerity of aim and purpose … In its own particular way Science emphasizes the value of and throws light upon the meaning of each of those high human characteristics, Faith, Hope, and Charity.”
H. H. A.