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Geology of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, New Zealand : a report comprising the results of official explorations

Chapter III. The Canterbury Museum and Geological Explorations from 1868 to 1876

page 167

Chapter III. The Canterbury Museum and Geological Explorations from 1868 to 1876.

No provision having been made for the proper custody of the Museum, and being anxious that the collections which I had had such trouble to bring together should be cared for, I offered my gratuitous services as Honorary Director until the meeting of the Provincial Council, when final arrangements might be made for such purpose. On December 11th of the same year, the Provincial Council voted the sum of £1350 for the erection of a Museum Building in stone, the Government appointing me its Director at the same time. This vote was supplemented by the sum of £483 lbs. obtained by voluntary contributions of the inhabitants of the Province, and the building was opened to the public on October 1st, 1870. It formed the nucleus of the pile of buildings now forming the Canterbury Museum, of which the frontispiece gives a faithful representation, and for the erection of which the Provincial Council has repeatedly voted ample funds. The architect of the building is Mr. W. B. Mountfort, who has also designed the Provincial Council Chamber, and many other public buildings in Christchurch.

In order that further and more detailed knowledge of the Greology of the Province should be obtained, and that I might collect further material for the Canterbury Museum, I accepted, with the permission of the Provincial Government, an offer of the Director of the Geological Survey for the Colony, to act as Geological Surveyor for that department, my first tour being in March, 1869, into the Southern Alps (Mount Cook and its neighbourhood.)* In the same year a

* Notes on the Geology of the central portion of the Southern Alps, including Mount Cook Reports of Geological Exploration during 1870-71. Geological Survey of New Zealand.

page 168second visit was paid to the reported auriferous rocks in Banks Peninsula, a detail survey of the saurian beds in the Waipara* was made, and the remarkable Moahunter encampment at the mouth of the Rakaia investigated. At the request of the Provincial Government, and in company with two of its members, several localities in the Opihi and Ashburton districts, reported to be auriferous, were inspected at the end of August, 1869, without however obtaining favourable results. End of November, 1869, I left Christchurch for a Geological Survey of the Amuri district, which occupied me about two months, when amongst others, very interesting saurian remains were discovered at the Amuri Bluff and in the river Jed. A further section of the district was examined during March of the next year, bringing me to the Hanmer plains On September 30th 1870, the new Museum building, in which the public collections had been arranged in the meantime, was opened by His Honor W. Rolleston, Esq., the Superintendent of the Province, and, as before observed, the building was thrown open to the public next day, a very successful Art Exhibition having been held in it during the month of February of the same year. The Provincial Government being anxious to obtain a detail survey of the Malvern Hills, principally in reference to the deposits of coal of various qualities abounding there, the Director of the Geological Survey entrusted me with this task, which occupied me from the beginning of November, 1870, to the end of January, 1871, and from the end of April to the end of May of the same year, of which the main results were shortly afterwards published.** Further journeys to the Maivern Hills were made in September, 1871, to inspect the progress of the different coal mines, and in November of the same year some irregular brown coal seams were examined near

* On the Geology of the Waipara district, Canterbury.—Ibid.

Moas and Moahunters.—Presidential Address to the Phil. Institute of Canterbury. Transactions, New Zealand Insuitute, Vol. IV.

On the Geology of the Amuri district in the Provinces of Nelson and Marlborough. Geological Survey of New Zealand. Reports of Geological Explorations during 1870-71, and notes on the Thermal Splings in the Hanmer Plains, Province of Nelson. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Vol. III.

** Preliminary Report on the Malvern Hills, Canterbury. By Julius Haast, Ph.D., F.R.S., Reports of Geological Explorations duriug 1870-71, and Report on the Geology of the Malvern Hills, Canterbury. By Julius Haast, Ph.D., F.R.S. Reports of Geological Explorations during 1871-72.

page 169the Gorge of the Ashley.* Middle of January, 1872, the Ashburton, Hinds and Rangitata districts were examined, principally in reference to their coal deposits, to which about six weeks were devoted, and of which the undermentioned Report gives the results. During April of the same year the Shag Point district in the neighbouring Province of Otago was also surveyed by me, and the results printed in the same publication. Fuller Geological Reports on both districts were printed in the same publication.** In June of the same year, 1872, I employed a collector in the Waipara district, by which the collections of saurian remains in the Canterbury Museum were further enriched, whilst excavations on a more extensive scale for dinornithic remains were made at Glenmark during the following month, the results of which surpassed my most sanguine expectations. During these excavations some more bones of that remarkable gigantic bird of prey were found, which I had previously described as Harpagornis Moorei; besides this new material, bones of a smaller species were obtained, which I named provisionally Harpagornis assimilis, both of which were described in the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, Volumes IV. and VI.
Passing over a period of a year, during which I was fully employed with Museum work, and lecturing for the Collegiate Union, we arrive at the time when, according to a resolution of the Provincial Council in October, 1874, the Geological Survey of the Province, as a Provincial Department, was again instituted. Being appointed Provincial Geologist on the 1st of November of the same year, I started to the south-eastern portion of the Province on the 10th of November, to begin with an examination of the Waihao and lower Waitaki country, returning towards the end of December to town. Middle of January, 1875, I left again for the south, and after paying a flying visit to the Northern Ashburton and Mount Somers, to make an inspection of some coalfields said to exist there, I proceeded to Timaru, examining the

* Notes on the Geology of the Glentui, a branch of the River Ashley. Geological Surrey of New Zealand. Reports of Geological Explorations during 1871-72.

Report on the Coal deposits of the Ashburton district. Loc. cit.

Report on the Shag Point Coalfields, Otago. Geological Survey of New Zealand. Reports of Geological Explorations during 1871-72.

** Notes on the Geology of the Clent Hills and Mount Somers districts, and Notes to accompany Geological Map and Sections of the Shag Point district, Province of Otago. Geological Survey Reports, 1872-73.

page 170country near the sources of the Pareora, returning in the middle of February to Christchurch. During the first journey to the south-eastern portion of the Province, I not only visited the low hills by which the area between the Lower Waitaki and Lower and Middle Waihao is formed, but proceeded also to the so-called auriferous reef country, near the head of the Northern Waihao, where a party of prospectors were then at wort. I found that the narrow belt of auriferous micaceous schists, which from the Province of Otago strikes across the Waitaki, beginning about ten miles east of the junction of the Hakataramea with that river, and forming the left bank of that tributary, widens considerably near the sources of the Northern. Waihao. This region narrows again towards Burke's Pass, and disappears entirely near the sources of the Opuha under newer and unauriferous rocks, of which by far the greater portion of the Southern Alps and their eastern outrunning spurs in this Province are composed. I may be allowed to mention that as far back as 1864, I alluded to the occurrence of this small area of auriferous rocks in that part of the Province, on page 3 of the Progress Report of the Geological Survey addressed to the Hon. John Hall, More than a week was devoted to a thorough examination of this auriferous district, during which I received valuable assistance from Mr. Michael Ford, the leader of a prospecting party sent out by the Waimate people, and who had just begun to sink a shaft on a supposed auriferous reef; the results of these investigations will be found in the Geological Chapter. A number of brown coal seams of average quality were also examined, and the existence of other minerals, and rocks of economic value in the district, was ascertained. In October of the same year, I made some detail examinations in the Waipara and Waikari districts, during which the remarkable ancient rock-paintings in the Weka Pass ranges were inspected. In December, several newly exposed coal seams in the Gorge of the Rakaia were surveyed, and all the coalfields in the Malvern Hills, of which several had lately been opened, were re-visited. In the beginning of February, 1876, I again left for the south, when the districts of the middle Kakahu, Opihi, Opuha, Tengawai, Pareora, and Otaio were investigated; during which a careful search for useful rocks and minerals was continued, and after which I returned to town towards the middle of March.

My engagement as Provincial Geologist terminating on the 31st of March, 1876, all specimens, maps, and sections were deposited in the Canterbury Museum, and thus the actual work of the Geological page 171Survey of the Province had come to a close. I need scarcely add that a great deal of Geological work still remains to be done; the more the country is opened up by settlement, and new geological facts, brought to light by railway and road cuttings, tunnels, and mining enterprise, are made accessible to us, the more the usefulness of geological examinations will be confirmed. However, it will be seen from perusing this Report, that the principal features of the Geology of Canterbury have been fully ascertained, and that only details have to be worked out, for which purpose the lifetime of one single worker is far too short. In the Preface, the circumstances by which it has become possible to publish this Report have been stated, so that I need not refer to them again in this chapter, which has already assumed larger proportions than was intended at the outset; but it was urged upon me that a narrative of explorations, in which the physical aspect of a great deal of the country, its climate and natural history could be described in a popular form, would be very acceptable to the general reader, who would thus become better acquainted than in any other way with the whole subject treated of in the following chapters.