Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Annual Report for the Year 1949.
Membership. The ordinary membership has increased from 222 to 240; 25 new members have been elected, two have died, and eight have resigned. Transfers between branches account for the balance. Associate membership has declined from 17 to 13, but four associates were elected to full membership.
Obituary. The Society records with deep regret the death during the year of two outstanding members.
Edgar Fraser Stead, F.R.S.N.Z., who died on 7th February, 1949, had been a member since 1904. He served on the Council for many years, was President in 1933, represented our Branch during the nineteen-thirties on the Royal Society Council, contributed to the Natural History of Canterbury and was a frequent speaker at our meetings.
Robert Speight, M.A., M.Sc. F.G.S., F.R.S.N.Z., whose death occurred on 8th September, 1949, was Curator of the Canterbury Museum from 1914 to 1936, and until 1930, Professor of Geology at Canterbury University College. He joined this Branch in 1890, being Secretary 1894–96 and 1908–11, and President in 1906 and 1928. For many years he was one of our representatives on the Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, of which he was President in 1933–35.
Seventh Pacific Science Congress. The chief event of 1949 has been the holding of the Seventh Pacific Science Congress of the Pacific Science Association. The Organising Committee appointed by the Royal Society of New Zealand to make arrangements for the Congress was assisted by a Christchurch Committee on which this Branch was strongly represented.
Programme. Twelve meetings were held during the year, three of these being special general meetings. The following address were given:—March 2nd, “Health and Disease from the Viewpoint of the Psychiatrist,” Dr. M. Bevan Brown; April 6th, “A Summary of the Excavations at the Moa Swamp, Pyramid Valley,” Mr. R. S. Duff; May 4th, “Science in the Post-War World” (Presidential Address), Professor R. S. Allan; July 6th, “The Polyzoa,” Dr. G. H. Uttley; September 7th, “Photomicroscopy in Theory and Practice and its Aid to Science,” Mr. C. R. Russell; October 5th, “Operational Research,” Dr. H. R. Hulme; November 2nd, “Underground Water in Canterbury,” Mr. B. W. Collins; March 10th, “The Evolution and Domestication of the Cotton Plant,” Dr. R. A. Silow; August 10th, “The Lyttelton Harbour Problem” (A combined meeting with the Christchurch Branch of the New Zealand Geographical Society), Dr. C. A. Cotton; October 20th, “The Museum and the Community” (A combined meeting with the Friends of the Museum), Dr. Gilbert Archey.
Riccarton Bush. The Society's representative on the Board of Trustees of Riccarton Bush reports as follows:
The outstanding feature in Riccarton Bush proper this year was the fruiting of the New Zealand passion-flower Tetrapathaea tetranda. It is seven years since there was a similar display of the handsome fruits. Consequent on the onslaught made on exotic plants last year, weeds have ceased to be a serious problem. The major factor threatening the welfare of the bush is the long period of dry weather.
In spite of the great preponderance of introduced birds in the bush, smaller native species such as warblers, fantails, and silver eyes may usually be found. A pair of this paid a short visit, and a kaka remained for a fortnight in September until harried by magpies. German owls and magpies in the bush must be looked on as pests and destroyed.
Approximately five acres of bush on the old Deans estate will shortly be added to the bush and fenced to make one block of the bush proper. This area was badly overgrown with blackberry, elderberry, ash, sycamore, and spindle trees, and parts of it had been used as a rubbish dump. A major clearance has been carried out during the year, the Board's staff being assisted on several Saturdays by members of the Christchurch section of the New Zealand Forest and Bird Protection Society. It is hoped that all foreign growth will be removed by the end of the year and that replanting will commence in the autumn of 1950.
Report of the Representative of the Branch on the Canterbury Museum Trust
Board for 1949.
In preparation for the modernising and enlargement of the Museum as a Centennial Memorial of the foundation of Canterbury, a competition among architects was launched for the production of a suitable plan, and has met with considerable response.
Early in the year intensive and ordered study of the Pyramid Valley Swamp, near Waikari, was undertaken. Excavations lasted several weeks, and numerous and various skeletons were obtained as well as much further knowledge of the history of the swamp. A publication on this work has been issued by the Friends of the Museum.
After the regretted death of Mr. E. F. Stead, his very valuable collection of eggs and bird skins was handed to the Museum and has been suitably situated for examination.
Social Science Section. On May 11th the Rev. Benjamin Butcher spoke on “Among New Guinea Head Hunters,” and illustrated his talk by means of a large collection of slides. Mr. R. H. Thurlow Thompson gave an able and entertaining survey of the development of the popular opinion poll on June 16th, while Mr. C. R. Straubel spoke on “Who Were the Canterbury Pilgrims?” on August 17th. The final meeting was held on October 19th, when Mr. G. Miller delivered an address on “The Economic Origin of New Zealand's Democratic Institutions.”
Field Club Section. On 14th June, 1949, the Section Committee arranged a programme of evening lectures on Natural History topics, and field trips to various localities, where material discussed at lectures could be collected or studied on the spot. This programme has been carried out as planned, and has proved so popular with members that two further evening meetings and another field trip were arranged to complete the year's activities.