Tuatara: Volume 23, Issue 3, May 1979
THE 1907 EXPEDITION TO THE AUCKLAND AND CAMPBELL ISLANDS, AND AN UNPUBLISHED REPORT BY B. C. ASTON
THE 1907 EXPEDITION TO THE AUCKLAND AND CAMPBELL ISLANDS, AND AN UNPUBLISHED REPORT BY B. C. ASTON
The 1907 expedition to the Auckland and Campbell Islands was organised by the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, now the Canterbury Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand. The main object was to extend the magnetic survey of New Zealand but other surveys were planned at the same time. The first two relevant entries in the Minutes of the Council of the Philosophical Institute were as follows:
22 August 1906. ‘Magnetic survey: the communications from the Otago and Wellington Institutes having been read, it was decided that the proposed survey — magnetic, botanical, biological and zoological — of the outlying islands could not be carried out this year and that a subcommittee consisting of the President1 and Drs Cockayne and Farr be appointed to delimit more particularly the work of the proposed survey. The Secretary was instructed to inform the Otago and Wellington Institutes and thank them for their promised support.’
21 November 1906. ‘Survey of the outlying islands: the President reported that the subcommittee appointed to deal with the subject of the proposed scientific survey of the outlying islands of New Zealand had interviewed the Hon. Minister of Lands2 on the subject and forwarded to him a communication setting forth the objectives of the proposed survey and had sent copies of this letter to the various branches of the N.Z. Institute requesting their co-operation in the matter. Letters were read from the Otago, Auckland and Wellington Institutes supporting the Canterbury Institute in this matter.’
From then on most Council meetings dealt with expedition arrangements, the main ones being transport and membership.
On 9 April, 1907, it was recorded that ‘the committee set up to further this expedition had waited upon the Minister of Marine3 and had been informed by him that neither the ‘Hinemoa ’ nor the ‘Tutanekai’ would be available.’ This was because of a contemplated marine survey of the New Zealand coast (Annual Report, Trans. 40: 574). It was decided to telegraph the Acting Premier 4 asking him to receive a deputation consisting of the President,5 Dr Chilton. Dr Cockayne, Mr Waite and Dr Farr about this matter. The deputation met the Acting Premier and by 8 June news was received page 134 that the Government Steamer would be available. Arrangements were soon made to land two parties, one at Auckland and one at Campbell Island to be picked up when the vessel returned from the Antipodes and the Bountys.
On 19 July, 1907, a list of 35 proposed members of the expedition was adopted by Council together with their allocation to either Auckland or Campbell Islands. I have given this list below and added in parentheses the names of members invited later to fill vacancies. I have also added the position held by each invited member at the time of the expedition. based on information in various histories or calendars of the University Colleges, and various editions of Who's Who in New Zealand. In the third column I have given the original allocation to islands and in the fourth column the final allocation. The Minister of Lands. Hon. R. McNab. was invited to lead the expedition but could not get away.
|Dr C. C. Farr||Lecturer in Physics and Surveying Canterbury College, Christchurch||AA|
|Mr H. D. Cook||Lecturer in Mathematics, Canterbury College||AA|
|Mr H. F. Skey||Magnetic Observatory, Christchurch||CC|
|Mr E. Kidson||Canterbury College||CC|
|Mr C. A'C. Opie||(Assistant to Surveyors)||AC|
|Dr L. Cockayne||Christchurch||AA|
|Mr B. C. Aston||Chief Chemist, Dept. of Agriculture, Wellington||AA|
|Mr F. G. Gibbs||Nelson||A-|
|Mr A. H. Cockayne||Assistant Biologist, Dept. of Agriculture, Wellington||A-|
|Mr J. S. Tennant||Inspector of Schools, Wellington||CA|
|(Cap. A. A. Dorrien-Smith)||Tresco Abbey, Scilly Isles||-||A|
|Mr R. M. Laing||Science Master, Boys High School, Christchurch||CC|
|Mr T. F. Cheeseman||Curator, Auckland Museum||C||-|
|Mr T. W. Adams||Greendale, Canterbury||C||-|
|(Mr J. Crosby-Smith)||Invercargill||-||C|
|Mr R. Speight||Lecturer in Geology, Canterbury College||A||A|
|Dr J. M. Bell||Director, Geological Survey, Wellington||A||-|
|Mr H. T. Hill||Secretary and Inspector of Schools, Hawkes Bay||A||-|
|Prof. A. Jarman||Professor of Mining Engineering, Auckland University College||A||-|
|Prof. A. P. W. Thomas||Professor of Biology and Geology, Auckland University College||A||-|
|(Mr A. M. Finlayson)||University of Otago, Dunedin||-||Apage 135|
|(Mr G. Collyns)||(Assistant to Geologists)||-||A|
|Dr P. Marshall||Lecturer-in-Charge, Dept. of Geology, University of Otago||C||C|
|Mr A. Hamilton||Director, Colonial Museum, Wellington||C||-|
|(Mr R.* Browne)||Feilding||-||C|
|Dr W. B. Benham||Professor of Biology, University of Otago, and Curator Otago Museum||A||A|
|Mr G. V. Hudson||Wellington||A||A|
|Mr H. Suter||Wellington||A||-|
|Mr J. Drummond||Journalist, ‘Lyttelton Times’, Christchurch, specialising in natural history||A||-|
|Mr E. R. Waite||Curator, Canterbury Museum||C||A|
|Dr C. Chilton||Professor of Biology, Canterbury College||A||C|
|Mr G. R. Marriner||Assistant, Dept. of Biology, Canterbury College||A||C|
|Mr J. B. Mayne||Headmaster, Sydenham School, Christchurch||C||C|
|Prof. H. B. Kirk||Professor of Biology, Victoria College, Wellington||C||C|
|Mr G. M. Thomson||Dunedin||C||-|
|Dr F. W. Hilgendorf||Biologist, Canterbury Agricultural College, Lincoln||C||-|
|Dr R. Fulton||Dunedin||C-|
|Hon. R. McNab||Minister of Lands and Commissioner of State Forests, Wellington||?||-|
|Mr S. Page||Senior Demonstrator in Chemistry, Canterbury College||A||A|
|Mr W. B. North||A||A|
|(Mr C. Eyre)||‘Dundonald’ survivor||-||C|
The absence of T. F. Cheeseman from the expedition has always seemed puzzling, as he was the leading systematic botanist in New Zealand and his Manual of the New Zealand Flora had just appeared in 1906. The minutes show that on 6 August the secretary read a telegram from him asking if the Council's invitation to visit Campbell Island could be extended to the Auckland Islands. The Council replied that it ‘hoped that Mr Cheeseman would accept the invitation as it stood’. On 16 August the Secretary read a telegram from Mr Cheeseman declining to go to Campbell Island and ‘implying that the Council had nominated him to go as Botanist where there was least chance of doing useful work’. On 15 September a letter from Mr Cheeseman was ‘received’. Fortunately Cheeseman was asked to describe the expedition collections of ferns, lycopods, and flowering plants, and his accompanying essay on the phytogeographic page 136 relations of the Auckland and Campbell Islands (Cheeseman, 1909) is a classic for southern hemisphere botany.
With Cheeseman unavailable the Council resolved to ask Mr Donald Petrie of Auckland to act as botanist with the Campbell Island party but there is no further mention of this in the minutes. In the end Mr J. Crosby-Smith of Invercargill was appointed. Professor Kirk wrote to Dr Cockayne requesting the inclusion of a ‘distinguished lady botanist’ but the Council ‘could not see its way clear to take a lady’.
Finally, an Auckland Island party of 14 was selected and a party of 12 for Campbell Island. Captain Bollons of the ‘Hinemoa’ was authorised to hire a whaleboat and crew at the Bluff and this was done. The head man was Whaitiri of Ruapuke Island (Chilton, 1909). Chilton also notes that Mr F. R. Feild assisted the Auckland Island party as a private individual, and that Messrs Chambers and Des Barres did the same for the Campbell Island party. Mr Charles Eyre. one of the ‘Dundonald’ survivors found at the Auckland Islands, was taken to Campbell Island as cook.
The following notes deal with lesser known members of the expedition. Information on well-known members can be found in obituaries in the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand. As well as the source cited, use was made of the published list of graduates (1870-1961).
Henry Fawsit Skey (1877-1947) was born in Dunedin and educated at Otago Boys High School. He was an Entrance and Senior Scholar at the University of Otago, graduating M.Sc. in 1899 with Honours in Physics. In May, 1899, he began work at Dunedin as assistant to Farr in the magnetic survey of New Zealand, which had begun in January. By 1907 this survey had taken them throughout the country, including crossing the Haast Pass. Skey surveyed the Chatham Islands with Kidson in March-April, 1908, and went back in 1924 with the Otago Institute expedition. He remained with the Magnetic Survey throughout his career and retired in 1940 (Farr, 1907; Kidson, 1941; Baird, 1947; Healy. 1975).
Henry Denman Cook was a Junior and Senior University Scholar and took his M.A. at Canterbury College in 1906 with double first-class honours in mathematics and electricity and his B.E. (Elect.) in 1909. He was lecturer in mathematics at Canterbury College in 1907-8. In 1910-12 he worked with Siemens Bros. Ltd. in England, and from 1912 with Boving and Company Ltd., mainly in England (Hight and Candy, 1927).
John Smaillie Tennant (1865-1958) gained his B.Sc. at the University of Otago in 1892 and his M.A. in 1899. Between the death of Professor Parker (November, 1897) and the appointment of Professor Benham he carried out the class work in zoology and botany with Mr W. Mawson (Thompson, 1920). A list of genera of fresh water algae which he collected and noted in the Dunedin district page 137 during the summers of 1896-97 was given by Aston (1899). After various teaching positions he became an inspector of schools in Wellington. In January, 1907, he accompanied B. C. Aston and others on a three-day ascent of Mt Hector and in January, 1908, spent three days on Mt Holdsworth with Aston and Petrie (Aston, 1910). (Aston had also taken the Cockaynes for a three-day trip to Mt Holdsworth in January, 1906). In 1912 Tennant became Principal of the Kelburn Teachers Training College and ex officio lecturer in Education at Victoria University. In 1923 he was appointed to the newly created chair of Education and retired in 1927 to Tahunanui, Nelson. Professor G. T. S. Baylis informs me that Professor Tennant left a sum of money for the use of the Botany Department, University of Otago. Beaglehole (1949) wrote: ‘Tennant's calibre was considerable — with both literary and biological interests, he was a really well read man, and could quote Holy Writ to advantage. In courtesy he was second only to Kirk.’
Captain (later Major) Arthur Algernon Dorrien-Smith (1876-1955) of the Rifle Brigade was noted for the gardens which he inherited and developed at Tresco Abbey, Scilly Isles. His daughter, the Hon. Mrs A. E. Phillimore of Chichester, Sussex, has written to me (11 July, 1978) that Captain Dorrien-Smith was A.D.C. to one of the Governors in Australia and believes that he took part in the 1907 expedition while on leave. (It is also possible that he was returning home via New Zealand after his tour of duty.) His obituary (Anon., 1955) mentions that he was an extra A.D.C. to Lord Northcote, Governor-General of Australia in 1904-5, but I cannot find anything for 1906-7. After returning from the Auckland Islands, of which he wrote an account (Dorrien-Smith, 1908a), he stayed in the Marlborough district, and then in January, 1908, collected in the Cobb Valley with F. G. Gibbs and three others (Dorrien-Smith, 1908b). In September, 1909, after he had resigned from the army and married, Dorrien-Smith left England with his wife on a trip round the world, and botanised in Western Australia during October (Dorrien-Smith, 1910a) and on the Chatham Islands in December (Dorrien-Smith, 1910b). The return journey was via Cape Horn and Montevideo and Mrs Phillimore also wrote: ‘He had 24 plants of Olearia semidentata from the Chatham Islands in his consignment. They nursed the plants through the storms off Cape Horn, and then had to pack them with ice coming up through the Tropics, and by the time they got to the British Isles there were only two of the 24 plants surviving, which flourished in the Scilly Isles. However, from these two quite a number of plants have been distributed throughout the western areas of the British Isles. The famous garden of Logan in Wigtownshire, now taken over by Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, have some of these, which I saw this year. In the Scilly Isles we have some difficulty in growing them, because they do require a damp situation and are inclined suddenly to dry out.’page 138
Alexander Moncrieff Finlayson was an Entrance and Senior Scholar at the University of Otago, gaining his M.Sc. in 1907 with double first-class honours. He was the author of four geological papers in the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute in 1907 and 1908. Finlayson was an Associate of the Otago School of Mines and was awarded an 1851 Exhibition Science Scholarship. After enlisting overseas and attaining the rank of lieutenant, he was killed in the Great War (Thompson, 1920).
Mr Robert Browne is listed as a member of the Otago Institute from 1905 to 1929, at which time membership lists ceased in the Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. His addresses were Stratford (1905), Hawera (1910), Technical School, Hawera (1911-18) and c/o P.O. Morrinsville (1919-20). On 11 September, 1906. a paper by Browne was presented to the Otago Institute ‘On the occurrence of Geonemertes in the North Island’, which shows that he was also in the Tokanui district, Southland, in 1905 (Trans. and Proc. N.Z. Inst., 39: 546).
Mr Edgar Ravenswood Waite came from the Australian Museum, Sydney, in 1906 to succeed Professor Hutton as curator of the Canterbury Museum. He took up the position of Director of the South Australian Museum in April, 1914 (Scarlett, 1971).
Mr George R. Marriner (1879-1910) was the youngest son of James Marriner of Spreydon. He was born at Gravesend, Kent, and the family came to New Zealand in early 1880. After leaving West Christchurch High School Marriner became assistant to Professor Dendy and later to Professor Chilton (Anon., 1910). He did not complete his degree (Hight and Candy, 1927) but was the author of seven papers in The Transactions of the New Zealand Institute and of a monograph on the kea. In 1908 Marriner was appointed Curator of the Wanganui Museum, but died on 25 February, 1910, at the Wanganui Hospital after a short illness. Marriner was a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society and New Zealand representative on the Council of the Australasian Ornithological Union.
Fig. 1: The Auckland Island party. Back row (l. to r.): S. Page, A. M. Finlayson, G. Collyns, W. B. North. Middle row (l. to r.): G. V. Hudson, A. A. Dorrien-Smith, H. D. Cook, B. C. Aston, J. S. Tennant, R. Speight. Seated (l. to r.): E. R. Waite, L. Cockayne, W. B. Benham, C. C. Farr. Delayed photograph by S. Page
Charles Eyre described the wreck of the ‘Dundonald’ to Crosby-Smith and this account was published in The Lyttelton Times on 2 December. Crosby-Smith added that Charles Eyre ‘is an intelligent young fellow, twenty-one years of age, having just completed his term of apprenticeship. He is genial and full of humour and can look on the comical side of the situation although very deeply impressed with its sad aspect. He amused the party when being plied with questions by saying that he had had eight months of a gentleman's life hunting big game.’
Publicity for the expedition included three excellent articles in The Lyttelton Times. Cockayne (1907a) outlined past scientific work on the islands while Speight (1907) described the geological problems and Farr (1907) the magnetic survey of New Zealand. On 12 November there was an editorial on ‘The Southern Islands’.
Members travelled south on the express from Christchurch to Bluff. Each member was asked to pay £5 towards the cost of the expedition, but this was refunded when a government subsidy of £135 was placed on the Supplementary Estimates through the efforts of Mr H. G. Ell, M.P. for Christchurch South, and Professor Kirk (Minutes, 24 October, 1907). The expedition cost £168 2s 9d and the difference was made up by the sale of photographs and surplus stores.
The three photographs are taken from the extensive collection of 1907 expedition negatives held in the library of the Canterbury Museum. In 1968, when seeking to identify some of the Auckland Island group (Fig. 1), I was referred by Dr David Miller to Mr E. S. Gourlay of Nelson who possessed a named photograph given him by Professor Tennant in 1958. The photograph of the Campbell Island group (Fig. 2) has already been published in Kerr (1976) but only Captain Bollons and Edward Kidson were identified. I have identified most of the party by reference to other named photographs in the collection, or elsewhere. Miss Helga Mayne kindly identified her father. Fig. 3 shows that the Auckland Island base camp was not actually in Camp Cove but on Anjou Point to the east, in the rata forest behind the boat shed and the A-frame hut.
B. C. Aston'S Report
Fig. 2: The Campbell Island party and ‘Hinemoa’ officers. Back row (I. to r.): H. B. Kirk, C. Chilton, Capt J. Bollons, C. Eyre, second mate of ‘Hinemoa’, R. M. Laing, H. F. Skey. Seated (l. to r.): R. Browne, J. B. Mayne, P. Marshall, J. Crosby Smith, E. Kidson, —, —. Reclining in front: G. R. Marriner. Photo: C. A'C. Opie
Extracts from Edward Kidson's Campbell Island diary are given by Kidson (1941).
Department of Agriculture
As instructed by the Hon. The Minister I joined the ‘Hinemoa’ at the Bluff with the other members of the expedition.
A start was made for the Islands at 9 a.m. on 14th. November. Port Pegasus, Stewart Island was reached early in the afternoon and an expedition was made to the hills where a most instructive time was spent and considerable collecting done in the few short hours available.
In a swamp area about 250 feet above sea with a subsoil of gravel and boulder were found such rare plants as Ehrharta thomsoni (a grass), Oreobolus pectinatus, Abrotanella, Actinotus, Dracophyllum rosmarinifolium, D. politum and D. pearsoni. All these plants or their closest mainland allies are usually found on the high mountains; their occurrence at an altitude of 250 feet on Stewart Island is remarkable and points to the abnormal edaphic and climatic conditions existing on Stewart Island — conditions which will have to be seriously studied if settlement of the Island is to increase and the pastoral phase to develop.
A return to the vessel was made in the evening. At 9 p.m. the ‘Hinemoa’ sailed for the Snares which was reached next morning at 6 a.m.
Fig. 3: The main camp, Anjou Point, Auckland islands, from a boat, showing the boatshed and the A-frame hut. Photo: S. Page
In the section mentioned 12 feet were exposed, the top 18 inches to two feet was composed of leaves matted together. tunnelled in every direction by the sea birds, beneath this was peaty soil containing much undecomposed leafy matter to a depth about two feet, below this was a layer of pure peat which extended at least eight feet further down. I regret that the time at our disposal did not allow for any sinking to ascertain the depth of the peat in various places. If however the above is anything like a fair sample of the depth of the peat on the island, the grasses will probably rely on bird excreta to supply certain plant food. Should this hypothesis prove correct it will be one of the most interesting cases of symbiosis yet placed on record.
The birds observed on the Snares were Penguin and Skua Gull, Black Robin, Fern Bird, Snipe, Black & White Tit and the introduced Thrush. Blackbird and Linnet. Many sea lions were encountered in the bush and on the shore. A sample of their dung was procured for analysis.
Leaving the Snares at nightfall the ‘Hinemoa’ reached Port Ross early next morning. 16th. November, and received the first intimation of the wreck of the four masted bark ‘Dundonald’ on Disappointment Island in March last. After attending to the wants of the survivors in the depot the ‘Hinemoa’ steamed to Carnley Harbour which was reached in a few hours. I landed with the Auckland Island party and remained there during its stay. The remainder of the day was passed in fixing the camp.
Fig. 4: Approximate routes taken by B. C. Aston and his companions: 1, Anjou Point; 2, Camp Cove; 3, Circular Head; 4, Fairchilds Garden; 5, Figure of Eight Island; 6, Magnetic Bay; 7, Masked Island; 8, McClure Head; 9, Mount Raynal (Flat-topped Mountain); 10, Musgrave Peninsula; 11, Norman Inlet; 12, North Arm, Carnley Harbour; 13, Skua Gull Flat. Drawn by Robyn Conway
18th. November. It having been decided to establish a subsidiary camp on Adams Island the boat's crew was employed to row our party. consisting of the same members as yesterday, to the Island. As a stiff S.Wester was blowing, the crossing of Carnley Strait was effected only with difficulty, and all were soon wet through with the salt water that came aboard.
A camp was formed somewhat to the north of Sealer's Camp with a good creek on one side and a Pleurophyllum meadow on the other.6 A track was cut through the scrub by Mr Field and an altitude of 2050 ft. was reached. Samples of the soil were taken for analysis and copious notes of the vegetation from sea level to the top were made.
As we neared the top several severe hail and snow showers compelled us to take shelter behind rocks. The wind was bitterly cold. Laden with soils, plants and notes we finally made our way back to camp about dark.
19th. November. Adams Island. In the morning, in spite of a drizzling rain and light wind. Mr Field and I made our way round the point and ascended the hill above Sealer's Camp. We were lucky in striking a burnt area (on which the vegetation had not reappeared to any extent) at 200 to 300 ft. This burn must be several years old and shows the difference between this land and that of Stewart Island, where, after clearing, it is soon choked by a rank growth of under-scrub which, if unchecked, becomes more impassable than the original forest. It is interesting to note that the shrub Coprosma foetidissima which is so great a pest in the South Island clearings reappears here but only in depressed patches. It is evidently unable to make much headway against the S.W. gales which continually blow in these islands. Another weed indicative of recent clearing was Acaena (Piripiri or Bidabid). The rest of this sparse vegetation was made up of Epilobium confertifolium. Pleurophyllum, Cyathodes empetrifolia, page 147 Danthonia bromoides, Coprosma cuneata, Cassinia vauvilliersii, Veronica benthami, Coprosma repens, Poa litorosa.
As we proceeded up the hill the weather rapidly became worse; torrents of rain soon drenched us to the skin. However we pushed forward well up on to the Danthonia meadows where, with frozen fingers Mr Field endeavoured to photograph a solitary albatross on the nest while I dug down into the soil for samples. Many specimens of grasses were obtained under the rocks. Generally speaking this spur is more sparsely covered with vegetation up to the grass meadow line. In many places on the side, pieces of the hill seemed to have slipped away, leaving bare patches. The beautiful blue flowered Veronica benthami was found growing to a greater perfection on this spur than in any other locality seen on the Island, probably owing to the more sheltered situation.
Late in the afternoon we made our way back to the camp and found the boat ready to take us to Camp Cove, so, striking camp, we sailed home without getting very much wetter than we had been all day.
The birds observed at Adams Island were the Flightless Duck, Parakeets, Snipe, Bell Birds, Black & White Tit, Auckland Island Shag, and Black Backed Gull. Sea lions were often round the camp and seemed to have a partiality for the pebbly beach and Pleurophyllum meadow.
20th. November. At 7 a.m. with the boat's crow, Capt. Dorrien-Smith, Dr Cockayne, Messrs Tennant, Speight, Collyns, Finlayson and self, left Camp Cove Depot to establish a subsidiary camp at N. Arm, Carnley Harbour. We landed in a bay near McLure Head7 to give the geologists a chance of inspecting the rocks and on the beach ran into a sea lion which sprang at the boat and buried its teeth about half an inch into the bow. Meanwhile most of the passengers with some agility were taking up strategic positions in the stern. On passing Circular Head six or seven sheep were observed feeding on a landslip but we were not near enough to ascertain their condition.
After a tiresome pull of about 10 miles we passed Figure of Eight Island, reached the head of N. Arm and camped on dry ground in the rata forest.
After fixing a camp and lunching, the flat at the head of the inlet was explored; numerous sheep tracks were observed. Here I collected some grasses which, as they were not in flower, I was unable to identify, and others of some rarity for the Experimental Farms. On this flat were noticed a few introduced weeds and grasses viz: Poa annua, Poa pratensis and Cerastium (chickweed). On returning to camp we discovered a good track cut through the rata forest in page 148 the direction of the W. coast. This is probably a track cut by Fleming to liberate his sheep as the work appeared to be not more than a few years old. The discovery of this track gave us considerable hope that we should be able to reach the W. coast with comparative ease over the saddle which we could see separated the northern part of the island from the southern.
21st. November. Making an early start we followed the track from the salt meadow and made rapid progress for a mile or so. Occasionally the track was lost owing to the rata forest giving place to Danthonia tussocks where the track was ill defined. Presently we decided to cross the creek which lay on our left. So abandoning search for the track we found ourselves on a fairly open boggy piece of land which was easy to traverse. A mile or two further saw us on the top of the saddle and with a glorious view of the western coast and Disappointment Island.
The day was now clear and fine and the awful nature of the coast could be well seen. Cliffs about 1500 ft rose sheer out of the water. One could look over and see the waves beating at the foot, leaving no foothold on which the unfortunate castaway could land. A few fur seals were observed lying on the ledges at the foot of the cliffs. Here was the scene of much slaughter of seals in bygone days when the sealers were let down by ropes over the perpendicular rocks to the ledges on which the animals rested. The seals were then butchered, their skins hoisted to the top and borne across four or five miles of country on men's shoulders to the N. Arm. The Maoris say that there are only two places where one may land on this coast, and it is easy to believe them. We had now crossed the island from coast to coast without any difficulty arising, right through the zone which is most dreaded on this Island, the Suttonia or scrub zone. To further explorers who wish to ascend such mountains as are in the vicinity, and the cliffs along the west coast generally, I would recommend this route as the easiest. A permanent camp might be fixed on the right of the salt meadow at the end of N. Arm where there is dry ground, plenty of firewood and good water. I am confident that the elevated part of the whole island could be worked from this base without much track cutting.
After doing considerable collecting and note-taking on the edge of the cliffs we turned up a fine creek where we found that struggling over boulders was preferable to climbing the huge tussocks of Danthonia. After ascending for some distance we made for a spur and on reaching this found walking comparatively easy. Flat Topped Mountain8 was reached and from here we had a fine view of Norman Inlet.
Having decided to take a short cut to the camp which was just below us we passed through some fine fairly level stretches of page 149 Danthonia tussock and heard cries which we attributed to sheep. Just above the camp the spaces between the Danthonia tussock were ploughed up in all directions by pigs (although we saw none). The object of their rooting appeared to be either Bulbinella rossii or Pleurophyllum hookeri roots. Near here we struck one track which appeared to head off in a southerly direction possibly towards Musgraves camp. On the flat at the top of the head of N. Arm we could see five or six sheep browsing but they soon made off and when we reached the spot none was to be seen. It may be observed that no lambs were seen throughout our expedition though the cries we heard on the slopes of Flat Topped Mountain may have been those of a lamb.
We were now about half a mile above the camp and commenced to descend through the scrub breast high which concealed all traces of gullies, logs and pitfalls of various kinds. In the next few hours by dint of brute force we managed to scramble, push, crawl under or roll over the intervening half mile. Owing to the steepness of the declivity and the fact that gravity was on our side we, though greatly impeded by specimens, finally reached the bottom.
22nd. Nov. Mr Collyns (whom I must thank for his assistance). and I, set out for the hills to the north of the saddle. On the way we took samples of the soil in the flat to a depth of three feet, which necessitated digging a trench. A sample of salt meadow soil was also taken at the marge.
When well up the hill the relief boat from Camp Cove, with the provisions which we were short of, was espied a long way beyond Figure of Eight Island, pulling against the wind toilsomely up the inlet. We accordingly hastened back to camp, and after a good lunch which we were much in need of, having been on short rations for the last two meals, leaving the party of biologists and physicists in charge of the camp, we packed up and started for Camp Cove which we reached by evening. But only after an exciting sail as the wind and sea were rapidly rising did we reach our destination. Our experience of the water of this inlet gave us some idea of its treacherous nature towards sailing boats. On our journey up we had noticed puffs of wind coming off the hills, whirling the water up in waterspouts and tearing along at a great rate.
23rd. Nov. The day was spent in camp attending to samples and taking specimens of soil from land adjacent to the camp. Along the littoral, clay was sought for, above the fine grained basalt and below the peaty soil. One only found decomposed rock and of that only about half an inch which was lying directly on the unweathered basalt. If this is usually the case plants may have their roots directly lying on the rock and deriving their mineral matter largely from it without its being previously weathered into clay. It therefore seemed desirable to take complete suites of specimens for analysis showing soil, decomposed rock and bed rock, and this was done.page 150
24th. November. An expedition to Masked Island was made today in which, as the Island was but a few minutes pull from Camp Cove, most of the expedition, with the exception of the geologists who had gone to Musgrave Peninsula, joined. Here I had a good opportunity of continuing the study of the littoral soil similar to that of yesterday with much greater success.
On a small spur covered with Poa foliosa and Stilbocarpa polaris, with a southerly aspect, was exposed by trenching, first eighteen inches of brownish top soil with numerous roots throughout, then eighteen inches of black soil with few roots, finally a mat of roots resting directly on the rock beneath. Samples were taken for analysis of all specimens as before.
On the N.W. side of the island Poa litorosa was observed growing in drooping festoons nine feet long. The adaptability and variability in habit of this grass as seen on the Snares and this group is most astonishing.
In the afternoon with Messrs Tennant, Field and Page I ascended the hill above the boat depot, Camp Cove. At Skua Gull Flat the soil was sampled in several places. To this point several sea lion tracks lead from the boat bay and ascended through the rata forest thereby rendering progress for us easier. The flat is rather curiously cut into lanes which are caused by the alternation of rata forest and Danthonia meadow. These lanes are generally parallel with the prevailing winds. Our way up to the Suttonia scrub was therefore fairly open. After some struggling the Suttonia was passed and the Danthonia meadow reached. The top was soon reached and a good series of photographs taken by Mr Page. Splendid views extended in every direction particularly of the rocky entrance to Carnley Strait. Round the top some interesting grasses were collected and one rare Poa of which good roots were taken. We were now at an altitude of 1350 feet and had rapidly to descend in order to gain camp before nightfall. Coming down I took samples of the Danthonia meadow soil which should prove of service to The Director of Rothamsted Experimental Station who is investigating the origin of nitrogen in soils and for this purpose required virgin black soils. The taking of these samples with only the light instruments I was able to carry somewhat delayed us and the twilight was rapidly deepening when the Suttonia belt was entered at a somewhat different point from our exit. After an hour's hard struggle, and wet to the thighs with bog water, we finally managed to get out into the rata forest where progression became less difficult. Climbing a rata one of the party received the directions from another who had pushed ahead and Skua Gull Flat was reached none too soon. We reached camp at 9 p.m. well satisfied with our day's work.
25th. November: The day broke with a slight S.W. wind and drizzling mist and rain. Having obtained permission from the executive9 for the loan of the boat and crew a start was made for page 151 the Pleurophyllum meadows of Adams Island for the special purpose of examining the soil. Capt. Dorrien-Smith, Dr Cockayne, Messrs Tennant, Speight and Finlayson accompanied me. We arrived at Fairchild's garden10 near the entrance of Carnley Strait after a couple of hours heavy pull against the wind. After a light lunch parties split up and spread out in various directions. I was left to sink holes in various places in the ‘garden’. On sinking to three feet through the peat, undoubted clay was found. The soil itself appeared richer and better than any we had hitherto met with on the island. Fairchild's garden is a strip of herbaceous vegetation extending from sea level up to the Danthonia tussock. It is thus possible at this point to gain easy access to the hill tops without passing through any forest or scrub.
The vegetation consists largely of Ligusticum latifolium, the other plants being Pleurophyllum speciosum, P. criniferum, Carex appressa and Poa foliosa.
Why these beautiful herbaceous plants should at this particular point come down to sea level in such profusion may possibly be explained after the examination of the soil has been completed. The taking of these samples occupied considerable time after which I worked up towards the west coast and here was delighted to find an absolutely pure formation of Poa litorosa beaten down by the wind into curious lenticular patches. This grass again manifesting its adaptability, and its ability to survive under adverse conditions has here adopted a close form of growth quite unlike its usual tufted appearance. A sample of the soil was taken for further investigation.
An early return was made to Camp Cove in order to enable the geologists to examine the Adams Island moraines, but on arrival opposite there at 4 p.m. they decided to postpone their attempt.
26th. November. I obtained the use of the boat's crew and proceeded to Skua Gull Flat to cut a trench as deep as possible to ascertain the depth of peat. A trench was soon cut with the aid of four stalwart Maoris to a depth of 8 feet and 12 feet long. At a depth of 2 ft. 6 ins. roots were found to be massed together, this I take as a further example of that phenomena previously observed of the roots massing directly on the rock. In the first 16 inches the soil was brown and the roots sparsely distributed but at the next fourteen inches the soil was brownish yellow and the roots many and matted together. The next five ft. six inches was bluish clay with fragments of rock — the roots of Danthonia bromoides were in one place near a tussock page 152 traced down to 4 ft. 9 ins. into the clay. Another hole had been sunk meanwhile about a chain away and on a lower level towards a small runnel of water. Rock was found three feet from the surface. A mass of roots was found about one foot eight inches from the surface being thicker at two feet. In both these holes cores of the soil were taken at different depths and safely brought to camp. Our operations were interrupted by the siren of the ‘Hinemoa’ announcing its return with the balance of the expedition.
Hastening back after a hurried lunch we packed up and embarked. The ‘Hinemoa’ then steamed for Norman Inlet where she anchored for the night.
27th. November. After a four hour run ashore from 4 to 8 a.m. we again embarked and steamed for Enderby Island which was reached at 2 p.m.
The most interesting point about this Island was the large sandy beach, the finest in the Islands, composed very largely of shell sand. In view of the future agricultural development of the Islands, it should be pointed out that here are huge deposits of carbonate of lime already ground and ready to apply to the soil. When burnt this calcareous sand would make mortar for building purposes. Near by the depot and scattered about were numerous evidences of former settlement. English grasses, clover and the common daisy were fairly plentiful. A considerable portion of the coast was traversed and it was observed that the cattle are rapidly eating out the native tussock Poa litorosa. Not much time was given for exploration as we had to re-embark at 6 p.m. The night was spent at Port Ross. The birds observed at Enderby Island were Flightless Duck, Skua Gull, Shag and Black Backed Gull.
28th. November. An early start was made by the ‘Hinemoa’ and the wind being favourable a landing was early effected on Disappointment Island on the western side of Auckland. The flora on this Island, though nowhere differing in species from that of the mainland is different in important particulars. There is no rata forest and no scrub worth mentioning. The Suttonia is here reduced to a harmless nonentity. The only scrub of any size exists only in a few patches near the cliffs and consists entirely of Veronica elliptica. It was from this wood that the castaways made their famous boat and found their firewood and the rafters of their huts. The vegetation is chiefly Ligusticum meadow and above this Danthonia. The former extending from sea level and the latter about 100 feet above it. The Molloyhawks sitting on their raised nests in the midst of the Ligusticum area was a most beautiful sight. Another matter of interest was the Stilbocarpa polaris which I consider remarkably like the Snares variety. It was the rhizomes or surface roots of this plant that the castaways relied upon for vegetable food and medicine. They informed me that it varied considerably in flavour and had a distinctly aperient effect upon them. Their method of procedure was to bake the roots in the ashes page 153 of their fires and peel and eat them like a potato. Some specimens were as fine in flavour as carrot which plants belong to the same order. I brought young plant roots of the Stilbocarpa back with me for cultivation at the experimental farm. It is interesting to reflect that large quantities of an allied plant the Ginseng are grown in America and exported to China where it holds a high place as a medicinal remedy. Indeed the botanical name of this plant Panax signifies ‘remedy for everything’ in allusion to the Chinese view of its efficacy. Some years ago seeds of the Stewart Island Stilbocarpa lyallii were obtained and forwarded to the Waerenga Experimental Farm for cultivation with a view to having its value compared with Ginseng root. These three indigenous staples of Disappointment Island were the mainstay of 15 men for nearly 7 months while the Veronica shrub as boat timber ultimately proved their salvation. Had they no canvas to cover the frame they could have used seal hides, several of which animals were observed in the Ligusticum meadow and on the rocks. A sample of soil from the Island was procured to compare with the Pleurophyllum meadow of Carnley Strait. The birds observed were Mollyhawks, Albatross young on nest, Flightless Duck. Penguin. Skua Gull, Mackerel Gull, Pipit.
Dr Cockayne and I did not leave the Island until the last boat came off bringing the party of castaways which had gone to the west side to bring the body of the first mate to its last resting place at Pt. Ross Cemetery. We had thus ample time to look about us but our efforts were considerably retarded by the rain which poured down on us steadily for three hours. Near the landing, the only one on the Island, the castaways pointed out to us a roughly trimmed post driven into the earth. We hauled it up and found the end undoubtedly trimmed by an axe. The post was about six feet long and about four inches in diameter. At one end a splinter had been broken off but there was no sign of nails or of a board having been attached. The mystery is who put it there and for what purpose? Near by here, a little distance inland, a huge blowhole with perpendicular sides was quite concealed by vegetation until one is just on the brink. The sea can be seen roaring up beneath. We returned to Port Ross that evening and attended the funeral of the Chief Mate of the ‘Dundonald’.
29th. November. Before the ‘Hinemoa’ sailed we had a hurried trip ashore in the vicinity of Port Ross depot. Our landing was greatly facilitated by the excellent jetty constructed by the castaways at the depot of rustic timber. Samples of soil were taken for analysis. A hurried examination was made of the vegetation on the point, where many introduced plants are growing but apparently not increasing to any extent. A large patch of gorse bush was in flower but no seedlings were observed. The mainland Acaena (piripia or bidibid) was here growing with the local species. Several grasses including sweet vernal and lastly Phormium tenax (N.Z. Flax). A number of huge clusters of this 8 to 10 feet high were seen but no seedlings were observed.page 154
The fertilization of the flax flowers is generally supposed to be dependent on honey eating birds such as the tui and bell bird. Although bell birds were numerous on the Island I only saw one tui (at North Arm).
General Review of the Islands
The soils of the Auckland group are almost entirely humus or peaty in character, varying in depth from 1 foot at the littoral to several feet as one proceeds inland. Underlying the peat is probably clay over the greater part of the main Island. The time allowed on the Island was so short that very little trenching could be accomplished, but where this was done, clay was found in every case. In any attempt to elucidate soil problems account must be taken of the vegetation existing on the soil in question, in order if possible to correlate changes in the soil composition with changes in flora. A short description of the main floral features may therefore here follow.
Starting from the littoral as we proceed inland and upward the vegetation may be briefly described as follows: — First there is a Fringe of Asplenium obtusatum, Lomaria dura and other ferns then a thin belt of Dracophyllum longifolium, the Inaka or grass tree. This shrub, although growing from sea level to 1500 feet grows to the greatest dimensions at the low level, and in greatest numbers at the littoral, which must be regarded as its present normal habitat. It here sometimes attains a height of 25 feet with a trunk 1 ft in diameter, but as we climb the hills the plant becomes more dwarf until they are only a few feet high and comparatively few in number. Regarding this tree it is curious that though most forms of arborescent vegetation common to the mainland of N.Z. and the islands reach their greatest development on the mainland, in the case of this species it is the reverse. The Inaka is undoubtedly at the habitat, where the greatest correspondence with its environment is attained, at the low level of Stewart Island and Auckland Islands. This tree is closely allied to the true heaths which usually inhabit humus or sour soils. rich in decaying vegetable matter. It is therefore not surprising that the edaphic influences of the Islands should have resulted in so remarkable a development of a shrub, which on the mainland is represented by a much feebler growth, mostly restricted to subalpine habitats. When the development of the flora of these islands is some day properly worked out, it will no doubt be found that Dracophyllum has played one of the most prominent parts in covering the soil with an arboreal growth. Intermingled with littoral fern and Dracophyllum are other rarer though often conspicuous species such as Stilbocarpa, Poa foliosa, P. litorosa.
The Dracophyllum is a good firewood, and its twigs and dead grass-like leaves are an excellent fire kindler, a point useful to bear page 155 in mind in this perpetually damp region, where, to be able to quickly light a fire in the rain is often most important.
Immediately above the fern and Dracophyllum fringe commences the rata, Metrosideros lucida, which must be regarded as the main forest tree of the Island. It extends from sea level up to about 400 feet, being in greatest abundance and strength in the first 200 feet, gradually giving place to subalpine scrub and tussock, Danthonia. Near sea level the rata forest is often broken up by patches of Panax simplex, which, on the Auckland Islands attains good size. The extraordinary form of the rata forest in Auckland Islands and its ecological significance has already been well described by Dr Cockayne. The chief practical interest to the dweller in the Auckland Islands lies in the excellence of its wood as fuel. Having first obtained a good fire. all that is required is a plentiful supply of rata logs to ensure a continuous fire of great heat. Above the rata forest the dreaded Suttonia scrub commences until it is succeeded by Danthonia bromoides meadows. Huge areas of gently sloping tussock are often met with. Open spaces in the tussock contain all the rare and beautiful Pleurophyllum family. As the slope becomes steeper nearing the top of the ridge, the tussock is less robust and often gives place to the succulent herbaceous plants forming meadows of Pleurophyllum, Ligusticum etc. Where the soil is particularly wet, masses of bog plants in cushion formation occur. The above is the usual sequence of the vegetation on the Auckland and Adams Islands. On the off islands it is often curiously modified. Thus on Enderby Island from the S. coast Veronica elliptica forms the fringing shrubbery of the littoral and Suttonia scrub commences almost from the sea level but in a more luxuriant form. On Ewing Island Olearia lyallii, certainly the most magnificently foliaged of our splendid composites with Veronica elliptica forms the fringing vegetation. The Olearia also occurs at Port Ross in some obundance. On Disappointment Island the fringing srhubbery is represented by only Veronica elliptica and this in only a few places, the vegetation being chiefly tussock Danthonia and Ligusticum. The absence of arboreal vegetation may, no doubt, be accounted for by the steepness of the shore. An instance of this is well seen at the W. coast of the Main Island where the tussock Danthonia is the dominant vegetation met with at the top of the cliffs from 500 to 1500 feet high.
A discussion of the soil characters must necessarily be postponed until the analyses of the samples collected are completed.
The Auckland and Adams Islands are mainly the product of successive lava flows which give the country a very characteristic appearance resulting in many flat-topped hills and mountains, perpendicular cliffs and dark extremely hard rocky shores. The page 156 deposition of ferric salts from solution in the peat water has formed an effectual bar to further weathering of the rocks on these basaltic beaches.
Mr Speight has discovered granite on Musgrave Peninsula while it is probable that Disappointment Island is old sedimentary formation. The time at my disposal was not long enough to make any systematic examination of the soils and subsoils of these places. which is much to be regretted.
Utilization of the Islands
The main Island has proved a failure as a sheep run, it being impossible to muster the animals. It is yet to be seen whether the remaining sheep will increase.
If the sheep could be pastured on Danthonia areas it would probably be only a matter of time when the Danthonia would be eaten out, and then what is to take its place?
It is highly improbable that any ordinary pasture grass could adapt itself successfully to the peaty soil. Cattle would probably do better on the Danthonia but the country is so boggy that they would probably ultimately be worse off than the sheep.
The tussocks on Enderby Island, on which the cattle do so well, are Poa litorosa which does not occur to any great extent on the main island. Enderby Island is, moreover, fairly flat and free from bogs.
Dismissing the Pastoral industry we turn to Agriculture and in this connection I have to advise that some experiments be made in flax growing on the Islands. The soil appears to be eminently suited for Phormium in places, and the plants put in by the early sealers are said to have increased considerably. It would be easy to plant a few patches in suitable fairly open swampy country at both high and low levels and watch the effect. Good seed could also be scattered about. I would be pleased to take charge of any experiments and report progress from time to time.
A great want is a track traversing the whole Island from say Cape Bristow to Erebus Cove with branches leading off to North Arm and Norman Inlet. The cutting of such a track would present little difficulty and would be of great value to castaways and to visitors to the island. The greater part of it would be through tussock country, and only at Norman Inlet would much bush cutting be necessary.
It is not generally realized what a great asset the Dominion possesses in these islands as an attraction to the robuster class of tourist and the man of science. The climate is mild and equable and though tempests rage with unmitigated violence outside, there is ample shelter on the lee of the rata forest which clothes the slopes. One realizes at every turn that one is in close touch with nature. The tameness of the animals on the shore and waters, the numerous sea and land birds, the creeping life of the woods, the unique plants page 157 of the forest and meadow, the enormous cliffs with their successive scores of lava flows, the remnants of giant moraines, the granites of Musgrave Peninsula and the sedimentaries of Disappointment Island and above all the history of the Islands rich in stories of greed leading to shipwreck and disaster, of heroism and endurance rewarded by rescue — these are enough to attract and hold spell bound the naturalist, the artist, the historian or the man.
A lighthouse on the Islands could be worked in conjunction with an Observing Station where visiting scientists could study and record. Experiments could be carried on with Flax, Paspalum and other staples. The forms of life could be better protected and the fur seal saved from extinction at the hands of the poacher. Lastly the castaway, escaping a watery grave, would meet with a ready and comforting welcome instead of having to subsist on half cooked Mollyhawk and Stilbocarpa for six months.
The ‘Hinemoa’ arrived back at the Bluff on the afternoon of 30 November, Articles were soon written by Cockayne (1907b, c) about Disappointment Island and about the Snares and Auckland Islands, and the Auckland Islands were also described by Dorrien-Smith (1908a). The major results of the expedition appeared in the two well-known volumes on ‘The Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand’ edited by Chilton (1909).
I am indebted to Mr J. E. C. Shearer (librarian) and Professor B. H. Howard (President) for permission to study and quote the Minutes of the Canterbury Branch. Royal Society of New Zealand; and to Dr R. S. Duff, Director of the Canterbury Museum, for permission to publish the three photographs. In naming the photographs I was greatly assisted by Mr E. S. Gourlay, Miss Helga Mayne, and the late Dr D. Miller. I am also very grateful to Dr and Mrs L. W. McCaskill for mentioning Miss Mayne and finding her; to Mr N. Burnell and Mr B. A. Cooper, Principals of the St Albans and Sydenham Schools for their cooperation; and to Mr A. L. Burrows, Geophysical Observatory, Christchurch. for the Skey obituary.
Anon., 1910: G. R. Marriner. The Lyttelton Times, 26 February.
Anon., 1927: James Boxer Mayne. The Lyttelton Times, 27 December.
Anon., 1955: Major A. A. Dorrien-Smith. The Gardener's Chronicle 137: 234.
Aston, B. C., 1899: List of plants supplementary to the Dunedin Field Club's catalogue of Dunedin plants. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 31: 747-8.
——, 1910: Botanical notes made on a journey across the Tararuas. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 42: 13-25.
Baird, H. F., 1947: Henry Fawsit Skey, 1877-1947. Journal of Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity 52; 261-2.
Beaglehole, J. C., 1949: Victoria University College. N.Z. University Press, Wellington, 319 pp.
Cheeseman, T. F., 1909: On the systematic botany of the islands to the south of New Zealand. In Chilton (1909): 398-471.
Chilton, C. (ed.), 1909: The Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand. 2 vols. Government Printer, Wellington. 848 pp.
Cockayne, L., 1907a: Science at the Islands. Work that has been done. The Lyttelton Times, 6 November.
——, 1907b: Disappointment Island. A new field. The first scientific visitors. Animals and plants on the island. The Lyttelton Times, 3 December.
——, 1907c: In southern seas. The Auckland Islands. N.Z. Times, 11 December.
Dorrien-Smith, A. A., 1908a: The southern islands expedition. Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 239-49.
——, 1908b: An account of a trip to the Nelson District of New Zealand in January. 1908. Ibid. 441-44.
——, 1910a: A botanizing expedition to West Australia in the spring (October), 1909. Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society 36: 285-93.
Dorrien-Smith. 1910b: An attempt to introduce Olearia semidentata into the British Isles. Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 120-6.
Farr, C. Coleridge, 1907: The subantarctic expedition. The magnetic work. A historic sketch. The Lyttelton Times, 9 November.
Healy, A. J., 1975: in Northcroft, E. F.: Adventive flora of the Chatham Islands. N.Z. Journal of Botany 13:123-9.
Kerr, Ian S., 1976: Campbell Island. A History. A. H. and A. W. Reed. 182 pp.
Kidson, Isobel M., 1941: Edward Kidson. Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd. 144 pp.
Scarlett, R. J., 1971: E. R. Waite. The Press, 4 and 11 September.
Speight, R., 1907: The scientific expedition. A lost Continent. Its submerged remnants. The geologist's story. The Lyttelton Times, 13 November.
——, and Finlayson, A. M., 1909: The physiography and geology of the Auckland, Bounty, and Antipodes Islands. In Chilton (1909): 705-44.
Thompson, G. E., 1920: A history of the University of Otago (1869-1919). J. Wilkie and Co. Ltd., Dunedin. 288 pp.
6 This camp was no doubt in the bay now called Magnetic Bay which was the site of the expedition's Magnetic Survey III station. The description of creek and vegetation matches this bay as seen in 1966.
7 Speight and Finlayson (1909) refer to volcanic dykes ‘on the end of McLure Head’.
8 Now Mount Raynal.
9 The Rules of the Expedition (Minutes, 15 October, 1907) include the following:
1. An executive committee of three, to be elected by the members of each party, will administer the rules. Each committee to elect its own chairman.
4. As the Magnetic Survey is the primary object of the expedition, the magnetic staff will have priority use of the boat when occasion requires.
10 This name was approved by the New Zealand Geographic Board in 1967 but without an apostrophe.