NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE THAN SACTIONS.
We have now before us the tenth volume of the " Transactions of the New Zealand Institute," which has been issued somewhat earlier than usual, and in several respects shews a greater amount of care in is getting up than was the case with its immediate predecessor. The articles have been, more carefully selected, so that, although the volume does not contain so many pages as the last by fully one hundred, it is of greater value. The plates are not nearly equal to those in the last volume, chiefly, we apprehend, from having been printed on inferior paper—a poor economy. We notice that the yearly volume is now presented to a large number of scientific societies in all parts of the world ; we presume, although it is not so specified, in exchange for their respective publications. Few things could more thoroughly demon strate the value attached to the labours of the various societies affiliated with the New Zealand Institute, or tend to make the colony better or more favourably known in Europe and America. It will be evident that the affairs of the institute are managed in a true business manner when we state that, according to the lists of members of affiliated societies printed at the end of the volume, over 1100 copies of each volume are required to supply members alone. To these must be added, say 150 copies for presentations and exchanges, so that practically an edition of at least 1300 copies of an excellently printed work, containing 700 pages, and illustrated by over 20 plates, is produced every year for £500, including all charges for draughtsman, lithographers, editor, &c. Most of our readers will agree with us in considering that an institution which expends its annual grant so thriftily, and with so great an amount of benefit to the colony at large, is fairly entitled to claim the disposal of larger funds.
In the present volume the miscellaneous papers are 18 in number, as against 29 in the last volume, and occupy 190 pages ouly, as against 316. We venture to think the number might have been reduced with ad vantage. Captain Cockburn Hood has a paper on "New Zealand, a Past Glacial Centre of Creation." Mr. Carruthers attempts to shew that Mill's definitions of wealth and capital are fallacious, but can scarcely be considered successful. An interesting paper, by Mr. J. Stewart, on " Evidences of recent change in the elevation of the Waikato district," will prove attractive to many, and embodies one or two facts which we do not remember to have seen stated elsewhere. Dr. Von Haast has a lengthy address, chiefly on rock paintings in the Weka Pass, some of which bear to our unpractised eye an aspect suggestive of very recent, rather than ancient origin j especially when we read concerning the surface deposits found toward the centre of the rock shelter, " the presence of numerous pieces of Newcastle coal, of ribs and other portions of sheep, and the iron tip of a man's boot, told clearly its tale." We fully agree with the worthy doctor. A " Sketch of the traditional history of tbe South Island Maoris," by the Rev. J. W. Stack, is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the natives. When may we expect a similar paper for the North Island to be read before the Aucklaud Institute ? Mr. Colenso shews good reason to believe that the 15fch of November, the almanac date of the day on which Captain Cook took possession of these islands is erroneous, and should be October 9th or 10th. A perusal of this paf>er will, we think, convince most of our readers that its author is correct. His paper, entitled " Manibus Parkinsonibus Sacrum," is an attempt to do justice to the memory of Sydney Parkinson, the draughtsman engaged by Sir Joseph Banks in Cook's first expedition. Although somewhat too lengthy, it is full of interest, but we think altogether unsuited for publication in the " Transactions." None the less do we say, all honour to the author for the motives that led him to write it. The common practice of U9ing the work of labourers who have passed away, merely for the purpose of elevating ourselves, is one that finds no favour with him. His "Notes on the Ancient Maori Dag" will at some future day prove of greater value than they seem at present. Mr. Carruthers advocates a new system of weights and measures, to be based on a countiug radix, which can be constantly divided by two without leaving a remainder, and suggested 16 as the number best adapted to depose the number 10. His plan evinces great ingenuity, and appears to offer certain definite advantages. It affords support to the English distrust of the decimal system. Mr. Hunt's paper on " Destroying Snags in the Waikato," and Mr. Pond's, on " Firing Torpedoes by Electricity," have been already noticed in our columns. Mr. Higginson has a paper on " Floods, and the Methods Adopted for their Prevention"; a subject which, under the rapid disforesting to which the colony is being subjected, will become of greater importance every year. In Zoology we have 26 papers, occupying 153 pages. Dr. Buller has several papers on New Zealand ornithology, chiefly based on information derived from numerous observers, especially Captain Gilbert Mair, whose account of the departure of the godwit will be read with pleasure by most of our readers. Dr. Newman has a lengthy paper on the " Physiology and Anatomy "of the Tuatara," which ought to have been illustrated by drawings ; his account of the reproduction of a fractured tail is very interesting. Dr. Buller has a paper on " The Disappearance of the Billbird from the North Island." A similar paper on " The General Disappearance of Small Birds" was read by Mr. D. C. Wilson before the Auckland Institute.
In Icthyology, we have a description of two new fishes by Mr. F. E. Clarke, a valu able paper read before the Westland Institute. Dr. Von Haast claims specific honours for a new frost fish over 12 feet in length. Mr. Rutland gives an interesting paper on the "Habits of the New Zealand Grayling," from which it appears that as the trout increase in the Nelson streams the grayling disappears. Mr. Thompson's paper on the " Dunedin Fish is scarcely adapted for publication in the*" Transactions."
In Entomology, Mr. Butler giveß an excellent description of our butterflies, with drawings of several species. Fifteen species are enumerated, of which one has not been observed since it was originally collected by Dieffenbach; one is found in America, six are common to Australia and New Zealand, and seven are peculiar to New Zealand. Mr. Fereday has an excellent paper on the same subject, but restricted to the single genus Chrysophanus, of which he makes a fifth species, not mentioned by Mr. Butler. The same author describes two new genera of moths.
In Arachnology, the Rev. 0. P. Cambridge describes the trap - door spider, respecting which Mr. R. Gillies gave such interesting particulars in the Bth volume of "Transactions," as Nemesia Oilliesii. Mr. Gillies gives particulars of the nests of certain Australian and Californian trap-door spidere, and Mr. Robson gives a brief account of a marine spider which makes its nest in holes in the rock below lowwater mark. In some respects it resembles the common water-spider of England, and it the first marine spider discovered. Professor Hutton gives designs of oar centipedes, gully wormß, and their near allies, of which he considers nine to be new to science. The paper is a valuable addition to our descriptive natural history. The same author presents a list of shells, recently added to our fauna, of which about fifteen are new to science.
Mr. Robert Gillies has an amusing and interesting paper on " Changes in the E\una of Otago," with notet on the wild dog, by Mr. Murison. Papers ot this kind, although not of direct value from a purely scientific point of view, are yet of great service as a register of the changes effected in the progress of settlement. Could none of our friends at tbe Bay of Islands or Hokianga favour us with a similar record for the northern province ?
The most important paper in the Zoological section is "Notes on the Whales of the New Zealand Seas," by Dr. Hector. The opportunities of examining the type specimens of cetaceans in the chief museums of Europe, during the author's recent visit, have resulted in demonstrating the insufficiency of the characters on whioh many 30called apecies were based, and which, in some cases, doubtless arose from the " species" having been described from imperfect materials. These spurious species are now struck out.
In the Botanical section we find (including •one in the appendix) about twenty papers, occupying nearly 100 pages—a considerable increase when compared with the previous volume, but fully three-fourths of the whole is by ono author, —Mr. Kirk. The first
paper is by Dr. Carl, "On Grasses." The author states certain particulars respecting a large number of foreign grasses, but in so indefinite a manner as to deprive the paper of much of its value. Mr. Cheeseman has another of his interesting papers on the fertilisation of our native plants. Mr. S. P. Smith gives an account and drawing of a branched nikau, in all probability the only branched specimen existing. Mr. Potts has a list of ferns found in various parts of the Canterbury district. Mr. Kirk's first paper is "On the Naturalised Plants of Port Nicholson," in the introduction to which he combats the exaggerated ideas commonly held as to the impending extinction of large numbers of our native plants, and shews that in this colony the process of displacement " rarely or never results in the extirpation of indigenous species, although it greatly reduces the number of individuals." It appears that while 400 speeies of plants have become naturalised about Auckland, less than 250 are naturalised about Wellington, a fact which tells forcibly in favour of the climate of Auckland. The next paper is on the celery-leaved pines of New Zealand, one of which is the well-known tanekaha. " A revised arrangement of the New Zealand species of Dacrydium," is perhaps the most valuable paper in this section ; seven species ase described, of which the best known is the common rimu. Our readers will be interested to learn that the Westland pine, which belongs to this genus, and affords a very desirable timber, has been found in this district. A drawing of this species and another of L). Kirkii, another local form are given. We have also, by the same author, descriptions of a new fern and of new flowering plants; contributions to the Botany of Otago ; and in the appendix a paper, which will be useful to all engaged in botanical pursuits in the colony, *' An Enumeration of Recent Additions to the New Zealand Flora, with Critical and Geographical Notes," from which it appears that nearly 100 flowering plants and ferns have been added to our list since the publication of the Handbook of tke New Zealand Flora.
1° Chemistry we find six papers, occupying 3G pages. The most important of which is, "On Certain of the Mineral Waters of New Zealand," by W. Skey. An analysis of a large number of these waters is given, the majority being from this district. Many of them have a decided therapeutic value. M . r - p °Bd's paper "On the Presence of Nickel in the Auckland District," was noticed by us at the time it was read. It affords great encouragement to those who believe in the mineral resources of this trict.
In the section Geology we have eight papers, which occupy nearly fifty pages. Mr. Travers supplies two papers "On the cause of the warmer climate which existed in high northern latitudes during former geological periods," in which he attempts to combat the views advanced by Sir Charles Lyell and Mr. Croll, but can scarcely be considered successful. Mr. Crawford writes "On the probability of obtaining gold in the Wellington district," but it must be confessed the prospect is not bright. We can only stop to notice another paper, that by Dr. Hector, "On the New Zealand Belemnites," a paper of great value, and which well maintains his reputation. It is with regret we observe that out of seventy-nine papers printed, the Auckland Institute can only claim the parentage of nine. This is not as it should be. Wellington has forty papers, of which perhaps onefourth was written by members of the Geo logical Survey staff or other Government Departments. Otago has seventeen, Canterbury eight, Napier four (all by one author), Westland one. Nelson has contributed nothing towards the general stock of knowledge.
In the proceedings mention is made of papers on " New Mollusks," by Mr. Cheeseman, and "Descriptions of Insects," by Captain Broun, but they do not appear to have been printed, although no cause is assigned for the omission, unless the statement that Captain Broun is engaged in pre paring a complete catalogue of the New Zealand coleoptera may be taken as such in his case. We heartily commend the volume to the attention of our readers.
Permanent link to this item
NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE THAN SACTIONS., New Zealand Herald, Volume XV, Issue 5180, 24 June 1878
NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE THAN SACTIONS. New Zealand Herald, Volume XV, Issue 5180, 24 June 1878
Using This Item
NZME is the copyright owner for the New Zealand Herald. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence . This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of NZME. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.
This newspaper was digitised in partnership with Auckland Libraries and NZME.