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New Zealanders and Science

1 The Forerunners

1 The Forerunners

For original material on the history of science in early New Zealand the reader must consult rare books and manuscripts in special New Zealand collections. The most accessible account of the scientific work of Cook's first voyage is Sir J. D. Hooker's edition of the Journal of the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks . . . during Captain Cook's First Voyage. . . . (London, 1896). Banks has suffered much from prudish editing, and it is fortunate that a manuscript copy of the original journal is in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. The admirable engravings of the botanical work of the expedition are to be found in Illustrations of the Botany of Captain Cook's Voyage Round the World in H.M.S. Endeavour in 1768-71 (London, 1900-5) by Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Solander. The official narratives of the three voyages contain much scientific material and many fine engravings, and they are usefully and sometimes entertainingly supplemented by such works as Dr J. R. Forster's Observations made during a Voyage round the World, on Physical Geography, Natural History, and Ethic Philosophy. . . . page 154(London, 1778). Only twelve arid pages in Vol. i of Captain George Vancouver's A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and round the World. . . . (London, 1798) are devoted to New Zealand, and the expedition's chief scientific contribution, New Zealand Cryptogamia, by Dr Archibald Menzies, was reproduced in W. J. Hooker's Musci Exotici (London, 1818-20) and Icones Filicum (London, 1829-31). The work of Dumont d'Urville's two expeditions was published magnificently in the Voyage de la Corvette l'Astrolabe. . . . (Paris, 1830-3) and Voyage au Pol Sud et dans l'Océanie sur les corvettes l'Astrolabe et la Zélée. . . . (Paris, 1841-3). In the former the botanical observations of Lesson and Richard are fully recorded, while thirteen volumes of the second work are devoted to science, small sections specifically to New Zealand science. It is regrettable that so little of this valuable material has been translated. The results of Allan Cunningham's explorations and those of his brother were published under the title, Florae Insularum Novae Zelandiae Precursor, serially in the Companion to the Botanical Magazine (London, 1836) and later in the Annals of Natural History (London, 1838-40). The best account of Darwin's fleeting visit to New Zealand is to be found in Charles Darwin's Diary of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle (Cambridge, 1933), edited by Nora Barlow. This supersedes earlier and less complete versions of the diary. The scientific work of the United States Exploring Expedition is contained in several splendidly produced volumes, of which J. D. Dana's on Zoophytes (Philadelphia, 1848), Geology (Philadelphia, page 1551849), and Crustacea (Philadelphia, 1852) are of greatest interest to New Zealanders. The space given to New Zealand is limited, but Dana endeavoured to place it in the geological system of the Pacific. The working conditions of the scientist in early New Zealand are nowhere more ably described than in Dr Ernst Dieffenbach's Travels in New Zealand (London, 1843), a book as notable for its scientific value as for its humane outlook. Some reports of the Acheron survey were published in the New Zealand Journal (London, 1840-52), but the scientific work of the expedition was not comprehensively recorded. M. E. Raoul's contributions to New Zealand botany were published in two volumes, Choix de Plantes de la Nouvelle-Zélande (Paris, 1846) and Fleurs Sauvages et Bois Précieux de la Nouvelle-Zélande (London and Paris, 1889), the latter compiled in collaboration with Madame Charles Hetley. The volumes are published and illustrated on the lavish scale common to French scientific works on New Zealand.