W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso

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Appendix C.—(See p. 114).

M. Crozet’s description of this attack is so graphic, and at the same time so much in keeping with what I have known to take place among the New Zealanders in their old sieges, that I am tempted to give an extract, as I believe his work is not commonly known in the colony:—M. Crozet commanded the King’s sloop of war, the ‘Mascarin,’ under M. Marion, and put into the Bay of Islands in distress, having lost his masts. With great difficulty they cut down fir trees, some three or four miles off in the woods, and to get them out had to make a road! They had now been here at anchor thirty-three days, when the Maoris suddenly rose against the French, and killed Marion, with twenty-eight men! and it was with extreme difficulty that Crozet managed to get on board the ship those left on shore. After this the New Zealanders made several attempts to take even the ships, which they fiercely attacked in a hundred large canoes. At last Crozet, seeing it impossible to supply the ships with masts, unless he could drive the natives from the neighbourhood, went to attack their pa, which was one of the greatest and strongest. He put the carpenters in front to cut down the palisades, behind which the natives stood in great numbers on their fighting stages, from which they threw down stones and darts.362 His people drove the natives from these stages by keeping up a regular fire, which did some execution. The carpenters could now approach without danger, and in a few moments cut a breach in the fortification. A chief instantly stepped into it with a long spear in his hand. He was shot dead by Crozet’s marksmen, and presently another occupied his place, stepping on the dead body. He likewise fell a victim to his intrepid courage, and in the same manner eight chiefs successively defended the post of honour. The rest, seeing their leaders dead, took flight, and the French pursued and killed numbers of them. M. Crozet offered fifty dollars to any person who should take a New Zealander alive, but this was absolutely impracticable. A soldier seized an old man and began to drag him towards his Captain, but the savage, being unarmed, bit into the fleshy part of the Frenchman’s hand, of which the exquisite pain [118] so enraged him that he ran the New Zealander through with the bayonet. M. Crozet found great quantities of dresses, arms, tools, and raw flax in this pa, together with a prodigious store of dried fish and roots. He completed the repairs in his ship without interruption after accomplishing this enterprise, and prosecuted his voyage after a stay of sixty-four days in the Bay of Islands.—Forster’s Voyage, Vol. II., pp. 461–465.
1878 Notes on the genus Callorhynchus with a description of an undescribed New Zealand species.
Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 11: 298-300.

[Read before the Hawke Bay Philosophical Institute, 12th August, 1878.]

In a “Catalogue of the Fishes of New Zealand with Diagnoses of the Species,” compiled by Captain Hutton and printed for the Colonial Museum in 1872, only one species of the genus Callorhynchus is mentioned as belonging to our seas—C. antarcticus; but, as I take it, there are several other species, two of which I have seen, viz., C. australis, Hobson, and an undescribed one, which I believe to be a species nova (C. dasycaudatus, mihi), of which I shall give a fair diagnostic and specific outline in this paper.

It was in December, 1844, that I first saw this fish. I was leaving Poverty Bay in a brig, bound for this place, when, on passing the heads, we saw some Maori canoes fishing, one of which paddled alongside and sold us some of their fish they had just taken; among them was one that I had [299] never seen before; I knew it was of the genus Callorhynchus, and, as I thought, distinct from C. antarctious (the only species of that genus then known to me), so I took a sketch drawing of it, with notes of its dimensions, etc., which I now give.

Callorhynchus dasycaudatus, mihi.

Total length, 3 ft. 3 in.; girth, (belly) 1 ft. 5 in.; length of pectoral fin, 9 in.; first dorsal fin, 5 in.; of attached bony ray, 7 in.; length of tail, from angle in upper surface, 12 in.; length from snout to anterior base of first dorsal fin., 9½ in.; the bony ray in front of the first dorsal fin is partly separated from that fin, it is a little curved, and barbed slightly on the posterior edge; the extremity of the tail is free and feathered, which, being such a great peculiarity and so very characteristic of this species, has given rise to its pecific name. Whole fish silvery white, but highly iridescent; the fins of dark grey colour. It had no teeth, only palatal bones; a crayfish was found in its maw.

In its produced whip-like tail and barbed dorsal spine this species approaches more nearly to its northern congener, Chimæra arctica, Linn., formerly the type of the genus, before that Callorhynchus was separated from it by Cuvier.

Captain Hutton, in the work above cited (p. 74), gives as a character of this genus, “extremity of the tail distinctly turned upwards:” I scarcely understand this; such is certainly not the case in the one species mentioned by him as belonging to these seas, C. antarcticus; neither does any such character belong to C. australis,—another of our species, which I have also seen. Both of those species also differ widely from C. dasycaudatus, in the very large size of their pectorals, which overlap the base of their ventrals. Drawings of the tails of those two species I also give in the subjoined plate.

I also note that Dr. Richardson, in a paper on some new Tasmanian fishes, read before the Zoological Society in 1839, has another new species, C. tasmanius, which may also be found here in our seas; I have, however, never seen it. It differs from those two species last mentioned in the size of its pectorals; in which respect it approaches to C. dasycaudatus. Dr. Richardson gives the following characters to distinguish it from C. antarcticus (probably at that time C. australis was unknown to him)—“pinnis pectoralibus ad ventrales haud attingentibus; pinnâ dorsi secundâ pone ventrales incipienti, ante lobum anteriorem inferiorem pinnæ caudæ desinenti.” And then he adds: “This species agrees with the Callorhynchus smythi of Benne, figured in Beechy’s Zoological Appendix, in the distance between the pectorals and ventrals, but is so unlike that figure in other respects that it is impossible to assign it to that species.” Of this last mentioned species (C. smythi), I know no more than what I have here quoted; should it be found in our seas, then, we may probably count on having five species of this genus. [300]

Description of Plate.

1. Callorhynchus dasycaudatus, Col.
2. Callorhynchus antarcticus, Cuv. (tail only).
3. Callorhynchus australis, Hobson (tail only).
(N.B.—The figures are drawn to one scale).

Dr. Hobson, of Tasmania, has given an admirable description of C. australis, which he dissected and described in 1840 (Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science, Vol. I.) This species is near to C. antarcticus in the size of its pectorals, etc., but widely different in the shape of its tail. Its length is said to be 2 feet 6 inches. His whole paper is replete with valuable and interesting information relative to the viscera, and other organs and parts of this peculiar fish. One short sentence only can I quote:—“The inferior extremity is especially interesting from its quadruped-like form; here is, in reality, the pelvis of the fish.” I quote this the more willingly in hopes that some of our young anatomists (to whom that circumstance quoted may be unknown), may also be led to dissect and describe other species of this curious genus; seeing, too, that they are not uncommon here on our shores during the summer.

1878 Notes on the metamorphisis of one of our largest Moths—Dasypodia selenophora.
Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 11: 300-304.

[Read before the Hawke Bay Philosophical Institute, 10th June, 1878.]

On the 21st January, 1878, my attention was called to an unusually large caterpillar, apparently asleep on the trunk of an Acacia tree (silver wattle). At first sight, it seemed so much like the bark of the tree in hue, that it was not readily distinguished from it. The larva was stretched out to its full length, nearly 3″ 6′″;363 it was elongate, and of the ordinary form, pretty evenly cylindrical throughout, though thickest in the middle and tapering towards its head and tail, and skin smooth. In colour, it was peculiarly mottled or finely speckled (irrorated) with very minute points of black, red (carmine), and ash colours—the latter predominating—which, combined, and at a little distance gave it the colour of the reddish-grey bark of the tree above-mentioned. It had two minute bright red (carmine) spots close together on its back, near the tail, and when in motion two large triangular dark splashes were displayed on its back; the colour of the belly of the larva was pale (dull white), with several round olive spots in pairs, corresponding to its belly feet. Its head was small, of a pale Indian-yellow colour; its hind feet were large, and it had also two broad anal feet. [301]

On being touched, it coiled itself up very rapidly and closely. This it did many times, so that it was difficult to get to see its under parts. It did not seem inclined to crawl, and was very quiet. I put it under a large bell-glass, and tried it with various leaves, but it would not eat anything; so I left it, thinking it would shortly undergo its transformation.

The tree on which I found it was a large old one, and it was on its main stem about 4 feet from the ground; how it came there was a mystery, for there were no shrubs nor plants nor even grass near,—it being the very middle of our dry season (which this year was extreme), and while the upper overhanging branches of the tree were several feet above my head.

All that day and part of the next it remained very quiet, still keeping stretched out to its full length, but not moving; it ate nothing, though on the 22nd it discharged several large pellets (fæces), of an obtuse cylindrical shape.

I kept watching it daily, and on the 25th January I found it had spun a small white web (cocoon) with which it had managed to bring together and curl down around it the edges of a large leaf of the common red geranium, fastening also the leaf pretty closely to the sheet of paper below, so that I could not get a single glimpse of the larva, although I tried many ways; but as the weather was so hot and dry, and the leaf quickly withering, I soon left off making any further attempts to observe it, fearing I might injure the larva.

Several weeks passed and no sign of its change appeared; and I was almost getting tired of making so many diurnal visits, when, on the morning of the 21st of March, I found it had emerged a perfect insect, a large moth of wondrous beauty! I do not think that it had left its pupa-case during the night, as there was but a very small amount of its long downy covering about the glass; for had it done so, being a nocturnal creature and of a large size, it would surely have knocked itself about a good deal in its vain attempts to get out.

I may truly say that I gazed on it with pleasure and astonishment; for though I had pretty largely known our New Zealand Lepidoptera (having collected many hundreds of species some 25–40 years ago)364 I had never before seen one like this. It differs too, very considerably from our British species, although I thought I had formerly seen something not altogether unlike it in books. There, however, it was, a handsome large black moth, forming almost an equilateral triangle of 1″ 6″′ as it remained at rest. I [302] knew that it belonged to the Noctuina group, but that was all. So I sent an outline of its appearance to Mr. Fereday, the celebrated entomologist residing at Christchurch, enquiring if there were any such specimens in the Museum there, or if he knew of such a moth. From Mr. Fereday I received a very kind and full reply, that, while there were no specimens of this moth in the Canterbury Museum, he had one (a female) in his own possession, which had been taken some years ago at Nelson; and that, though rare, the perfect insect had been described, and was the Dasypodia selenophora of Guenee.365

And now for a brief description of the perfect insect.

Its size across, with wings extended, is 3″ 3″′; length of body, 1″ 3″′; the body thick, with 7 segments, but tapering downwards rapidly from its second segment almost to a point at the tail (not unlike, in this respect, those well-known British species of the Sphingidæ family, Smerinthus tiliæ, and Chærocampa porcellus), and densely covered with very long down. Antennæ, nearly 1″ long, slender and evenly attenuated, but not smooth, being apparently very finely and regularly ringed and serrulated; legs, large and stout.

Its colour, on the other side, when living, was a sooty black; but after death it changed to a dark umber colour, with dark zig-zag and other markings on its wings (somewhat resembling those on the wings of the Emperor Moth, Saturnia pavonia-minor, and with a peculiar large and lustrous ocellated spot on each fore wing near the costa—in a line with the anal angle; all the wings are ciliated, bearing minute whitish dots at the extremities of the nerves or rays just within the margin. Its colour on the under side was ochrous or fulvous; the legs, amber-coloured below the knee, but its thighs were ochrous, and thickly covered with excessively long and waving down; its horns also were ochrous coloured but darker at their bases.

While living, it was a truly superb, rich, velvety-looking creature; presenting, too, when at rest, such a regular and graceful equi-triangular outline. The eyes on its wings had (if I may so express myself) a living look, much as the irises of the eyes of men and animals are sometimes drawn when represented under bright light. Those spots, or eyes, were all alike, black, but the two circular rims round each, and the lunate or triangular iris-pupil-like part within were shining lustrous and waxy, or as if strongly gummed. What with its fine moony eyes on its wings, and its long wavy down on its thighs, it well deserved its expressive name, both generic and specific. I could not help thanking its describer, for it is not often that we find so fit and distinguishing a name given in these modern [303] times, either to an animal or to a plant. Much, however, of its surpassing beauty quickly faded after death, which I attributed to the fumes of the sulphur I had used in killing it, not having any chloroform at hand, and leaving home on that very day by train to visit the country schools.

The pupa-case (after the moth had emerged) is nearly cylindrical, very obtuse at the head, and tapering regularly downwards from end of folded wings at 4th segment, and pointed conical at the tail; length, 1″ 3″', and diameter in thickest part 6″'; suspended slightly by tail; well-marked in front with folds of wings and antennæ, eyes and head of imago, and very strongly with 7-ringed segments, each having two long spiracle marks, one on each side. Colour dark red (garnet), with a blueish or violet bloom (dust), but smooth and shining on its prominent parts.

Cocoon very small, white and coarse, almost woolly; just sufficient to hold the edges of the leaf down to paper, where, however, it was strongly fastened; fæcal pellets emitted after enclosure.

The imago had made its exit by a small round hole at the top of pupa-case, back of the head, the case having also slightly given way down the costal marking of the wings on each side.

Note.—Dr. Dieffenbach saw the moth I had raised from the larvæ referred to (in the note, p 301), at my house in the Bay of Islands, where he was a frequent visitor during his stay there in the summer of 1840–1841; and from me the doctor obtained not a few specimens and much information (like many other visitors of that early period), which, however, he never acknowledged.

As it may be of some little interest I will just quote what I then wrote about that larva and imago, in a letter to Sir W. Hooker, dated “July, 1841,” and published by him in the London Journal of Botany (1842), vol. I., pp. 304, 305.

“In a phial you will find specimens of what I believe to be the true larvæ of Sphæria robertsii.366 These larvæ are abundant in their season on the foliage of Batatas edulis(?)367 the kumara of the New Zealanders; to the great distress of the natives, who cultivate this root as a main article of their food, and whose occupation, at such times, is to collect and destroy them, which they do in great numbers. They vary a little in colour, as may be observed in the specimens sent. The New Zealanders call them Hotete and Anuhe (the same names which they apply to the Sphæria robertsii itself), and always speak of them as identical with that Fungus. The common belief is, that both (those living on the kumara and those which bear the Fungi) alike descend from the clouds! this opinion doubtless arising from their sudden appearance and countless numbers. [304]

“A moth from the larvæ also accompanies the above, for I have fully satisfied myself of their identity. In 1836 I kept the larvæ under glasses, and fed them with the leaves of kumara (much to the annoyance of the natives), until the perfect insect was produced. There cannot reasonably exist a doubt that this insect deposits or drops some of her eggs on the branches of the raataa (Metrosideros robusta, A.C.), beneath which tree alone the Sphæria robertsii has hitherto been found, when they (the larvæ) fall to the earth beneath, die, and the Sphæria is produced.

“I think I can offer a fact for consideration relative to their being only (or chiefly) found beneath Metrosideros robusta. One fine evening last summer, when enjoying, as usual, a promenade in my garden, just as the sun had set, I was admiring the splendour of some plants of Mirabilis, which had just unfolded their scarlet petals. Suddenly several of these moths made their appearance, darting about the plants in every direction, pursuing one another, and eagerly striving to obtain the honey which lay at the bottom of the perianths of the Mirabilis. From this plant they flew upwards to the flowers of a stately Agave (A. americana), where, being joined by other moths, their congeners, their numbers soon increased; and thus they continued to enjoy themselves every evening during the whole season. The inference I deduce is this, that the M. robusta, blooming at this season, having scarlet flowers which abound in honey, becomes the centre of attraction of these insects—increased, too, by its densely crowded coma of inflorescence, more particularly so from the blossoms being always at the extremity of its branches; by which, and by their colour, this tree may at once be distinguished from the other denizens of the forest, even at a great distance.

“The larva whereon the Sphæria is found, when first taken out of the earth, is white internally, and appears solid and succulent. A finely-cut slice, when held against the light, presents a beautiful appearance.”

I may further add that, 25–30 years back, I had a honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) trained round the doorway of a house in my garden. This plant flowered abundantly in the summer, and it was interesting and curious of an evening to sit on the step (as I have often done) and watch those large moths (Hepialus); they would visit the plant in great numbers, and unrolling their long probosces, probe the flowers to get at the honey, passing quickly from flower to flower, and continually coiling and uncoiling their long trunks with great rapidity; they never lighted on the plant, and all the time kept up a tolerably loud humming noise from the quick and incessant vibrations of their wings, which, indeed, drew the attention of the cats, who often, in consequence, captured them.


1878 A description of two New Zealand Ferns, believed new to Science. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 11: 429-431.

[Read before the Hawke Bay Philosophical Institute, 14th October, 1878.]

I. Cyathea

Cyathea polyneuron,368 sp. nov.

Trunk stout, 12–15 feet high (garden plant 12 years old, 6 feet high, 3 feet in circumference under bases of fronds, and 2–6 at one foot above ground), densely covered with long black hairs, and marked with scars of fallen fronds.

Fronds (garden plant), 10–12, ample, grass-green colour above, paler below, gracefully drooping, 10–12 feet long, 4 feet 6 inches broad (in middle), oblong-lanceolate, membranaceous when first expanded, afterwards sub-coriaceous, tripinnate, glabrous above, floccosely hairy and woolly on veins and veinlets below.

Stipes stout, 12–15 inches long, 8–9 inches in girth at base, muricated, of a dark mahogany colour below and light yellow-green above, regularly marked with a light-coloured straight yet broken line running on both sides [430] from pinna to pinna the whole length of the stipe and rachis, each mark or dash, 6–8 lines long, having an interval or break of 1–2 lines; densely covered with long brown shining linear scales 1½–2 inches long and nearly 1 line wide at the base, curved transparent acuminate and pointed, beautifully and regularly marked, with finely serrulate edges, and having beneath them a thick rough plush-like undergrowth of blackish-brown shining finely barbed or jagged hairs.

Rachis and subrachis muricate, also densely covered with a thick coating of short dark plush-like hairs, which easily rub off; above, together with the costæ and costules densely hirsute (dark) and woolly (light-coloured).

Pinnæ alternate, 23–26 jugate, oblong-lanceolate, petiolate, (central) 2 feet 6 inches long. 10–12 inches broad, 6–7 inches distant (lower 10 inches) on rachis.

Secondary divisions or pinnules alternate, 30–32 jugate, linear-oblong acuminate and sub-caudate, 5–6 inches long, 1–1½ inches broad, petiolate, pinnate, thickly covered below with jagged acuminate shining silky light-coloured scales, each being curiously sprinkled with very long dark-brown hairs.

Segments alternate, 30–32 jugate, close set, linear, sub-falcate, crenately serrate, 9 lines long, 2–3 lines broad, widest at base, lowermost subpinnatifid petiolate and auricled downwards, barren ones broader, deeply serrate or sub-pinnatifid.

Veins very numerous, conspicuous and translucent, bi-pinnately branched; venules 10–12 in each lower lobe, and running quite out into the margin.

Sori numerous, crowded, 12–16 on a segment, one on each lobe; involucre globose, transparent green and hyaline at first, afterwards light-brown, splitting irregularly.

This tree-fern is a fine and graceful species; one that at first sight, and without examination, may be easily mistaken for C. medullaris, which it much resembles,– but differs from that species in its general hairiness and and woolliness, in its larger size of frond (breadth, etc.) and richer appearance, in its pleasing grass-green colour, its truly pinnate segments, its peculiar hairy scales and its numerous pinnate veins,–these last two marks being its specific characteristics, and its very numerous veins or venules in a lobe, the origin of its trivial name.

I have known this fern for some 10–12 years at least. In 1865–6 I found a young plant growing here on my ground (Scinde Island, Napier) among the common fern (Pteris esculenta), and removed it to my garden, where it has done exceedingly well, although last summer it suffered from the very long drought. At first, and for some years, I had supposed it to be Cyathea medullaris, but for the last four years, during which it has borne fruit abundantly, I have believed it to be a new and distinct species; having [431] also obtained specimens of similar plants from the eastern slopes of the Ruahine Mountain forests, as well as from smaller woods near the sea on the east coast.

In general appearance this species is by far the handsomest of our (known) New Zealand Tree-ferns, its ample fronds having much less rigidity than those of the other larger species. Of my garden-plant the fronds shoot early in spring, and grow remarkably fast, at the rate of about 4½ inches longitudinally per diem; the outer ones, however, die rather early in summer, owing, I believe, to the extreme dryness of the soil on the limestone hill where it is growing; and, in dying, their very large and thick stipes bend down abruptly at a few inches above their junction with the trunk, but not so as to bring the withered fronds near to the plant.

II. Hymenophyllum.

Hymenophyllum erecto-alatum,369 sp. nov.

Plant terrestrial, sarmentose; rhizome glabrous; roots and rootlets densely villous with long dark-brown hairs.

Frond membranous, bright grass-green colour, 3–4 inches long, 2–3 inches broad, mostly decurved or bent, somewhat ovate, tripennatifid; main rachis, and also secondary rachises winged throughout; wings very much crisped and narrowly undulated and vertical, situated nearer to the upper surface and so giving a sulcated appearance.

Stipes distant from each other on rhizome, cylindrical, stout, woody, wiry, irregular, bent and curved, 4–5 inches long, always longer than the frond, light coloured, slightly winged above, wings decreasing gradually downwards for 1–2 in.

Segments pinnatifid; lobes narrow, very close together, obtuse and entire.

Involucres on lateral segments, rather large, sub-orbicular, open, free, lips toothed; sori semi-exserted and coloured red.

This fern is naturally allied to H. demissum (although that is a very much larger species), but in several respects it differs from it,–not even belonging to the same (artificial) section; of which Sir J. Hooker says:— “Frond pinnate below, stipes not winged, rachis winged above only.” (Handbook). In all which characters our fern widely differs; also, in its smaller size, colour, closeness of segments, involucres, clusters of sori, etc., etc. The peculiarity of its being almost vertically winged gives it a striking appearance, which, together with the bright light-green of its frond, and the red colour of its large clusters of prominent sori, catches the eye at first sight, in its fresh state. Fruitful fronds, however, are rather scarce.

Hab: Growing diffusely among roots of trees in dry forests near Norsewood (Forty-mile Bush), Hawke Bay, 1876; and again, 1878.


1878 Report of the Inspector of Schools to the Chairman of the Education Board, Hawke’s Bay. Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives; H.1: 62-64.


Sir,— Napier, 30th June, 1877.

I have the honor to submit the report of the schools of this provincial district, both common and denominational, receiving Government aid, for the year ending June 30, 1877.

Number of Schools and Teachers.

The total number of schools at present in active operation is 27—viz., 2 boys’, 2 girls’, and 23 mixed. Of these, 6 are in the town of Napier (viz., 2 boys’, 2 girls’, and 2 mixed), and 21 in the country all mixed.

One new common school has been opened during the year at Ashley-Clinton, on the west side of the Ruataniwha Plains.

Four teachers resigned their situations during the year; one only being the teacher of a common school, at Meanee; and three being teachers of three several denominational schools—the United Methodist at Napier, the Roman Catholic at Central Meanee, and the Church of England at Taradale. The vacancies, however, were all quickly and well filled, so that those schools were each only for a very short time closed, and have been all benefited by the change of teachers.

Those 27 schools are conducted by 27 paid teachers, who are also, in several of the larger schools, assisted by other teachers both male and female. In a few of the schools which are under female teachers they are ably assisted by their husbands. I would, however, that all the assistant female teachers were generally better qualified for their office than they are. Indeed, should no Education Act be passed by the General Assembly at this approaching session, I shall consider it to be my duty to bring before the Education Board the absolute necessity of not allowing of any assistant teacher being appointed by the teacher of any school without due examination and approval.

Schoolhouses and Teachers’ Residences.

The schoolhouses and teachers’ residences are, generally, in good condition; but most of the schoolhouses both in town and country (although some have been during the year enlarged and improved by the addition of chimneys) are much too small for the number of scholars. Others still want chimneys; a few, never having been lined, need lining sadly; while some require painting, to preserve the woodwork; and some greatly need curtains for the large windows to keep out the fierce glare of the sun on clear days. The gardens, too—or, rather, the space about the teacher’s house which should have been made into a decent and tidy (if not a model) garden—would become all the better for a little attention and improvement; so, also, the pathways and frontages to the schoolhouses, which, being worn, are in wet weather extensive pools and watercourses.

New schoolhouses, much required, are being erected at Woodville and at Wainui; while others (also greatly wanted) are talked of for Wallingford, West Tukituki (west side of the Ruataniwha Plains), Te Aute, and Mohaka. From a petition recently sent to me by some residents at Te Aute (and by me forwarded to the Education Board), it appears that there are 72 children in that one locality available for school.

And here I would suggest, for the information of the Board,—1. That, in all future building of schoolhouses, the plan of the building shall be first submitted to the Inspector, or to some one well acquainted with what is absolutely required, as by so doing much more suitable houses would be built, and, possibly, a great saving effected. 2. That, while the said schoolhouses may be used in country places as heretofore for divine worship on Sundays, nothing whatever be fixed or placed within the same for such purposes. 3. That, in the future enlargement of those of the present country schoolhouses which contain large ugly incommodious embarrassing rostrums (of great disadvantage to the working of the school), it be a first instruction to remove out of the schoolhouse those incommodious structures, before that any money for enlargement, &c, be granted.

School Attendance and State of the Scholars.

Tables, showing the total number of scholars on the books, their attendance at the different schools, and an abstract of their ages, together with a condensed tabular view of the branches of education taught, and the number of scholars of both sexes learning such branches, will be given with this report. The total number of scholars on the books is—Boys, 838; girls, 649: total, 1,487. The total average attendance is 1,202, being 45 in excess of the average number of last year. Here, however, I should observe that the average attendance at several of our country schools is much less now than it was during the last quarter, owing to so many of our old settlers having removed to Woodville and other new places, taking their children, who were at school, with them. In addition to the foregoing there are also several private schools for both sexes in town and country (some of which are newly opened), which are well attended.

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

These primary studies are fairly followed by the scholars in nearly all the schools, and improvement and good progress has been generally made. Yet, in a few, where such advance is not so marked, it is partly the fault of the teacher, and partly that of the parents, who, too often, keep their children at home.

In a few of the country schools a bad unnatural tone is common in reading; while in a few others a most remarkable and peculiar emphasis is laid upon the last word of a sentence, which sounds ludicrous. I have striven zealously against all such peculiarities, and I hope not wholly in vain. I have been pleased in observing that a marked improvement in most of the schools has taken place during the year in writing, both in the form and manner of writing, as well as in its correctness from dictation. It is highly gratifying to notice how rapidly and correctly many of the boys and girls generally perform their arithmetic, a fair proportion of which is done also in the higher rules.

Other Studies.

Geography and use of the maps, grammar, British history, English composition, book-keeping, geometry, algebra, drawing and mapping, and also sewing and needlework, plain and ornamental, are all more or less taught, the first five in nearly all the schools. A large number of the scholars are now well acquainted with geography and the maps; and not a few have a very fair knowledge of grammar. Geometry, book-keeping, drawing, and mapping are taught in the town boys’ schools; and algebra and Latin are also among the duties of the senior class in the Napier Boys’ Trust School. English composition, in short essays on simple subjects and in letters, is now generally attended to by the older scholars in the larger schools. The art of sewing and needlework, both plain and ornamental, is also commonly taught in the afternoons to the girls.

Of Order in School, Use of the Black-board, Proper Place for Wall Maps, and Employment of the Junior Class.

I should scarcely be performing my duty if I did not once more (as I did a few years ago) prominently bring these matters to notice, in hopes of our teachers and their schools profiting thereby. In two or three of our schools there is still a sad want of order and quietness in the school; the scholars seem to have been allowed to do pretty much as they pleased, while the noise when all are learning (?) their lessons together (often repeating them at the very top of their voices) is discordant and stunning; while a little more order in their manner of leaving the school would not be wholly unserviceable. Again, the benefit of allowing the poor little junior class to sit for hours during the day unemployed— save when, for a brief time, engaged in reading their short lesson—is to me beyond comprehension. I have repeatedly pointed out how those little ones should be profitably employed, as, indeed, they are in a very large majority of our schools. In a few of our schools (and, I am happy to say, but a very few), that valuable auxiliary the black-board is too often consigned to a corner, instead of being daily and constantly in use, to the steady advantage of the scholars, and to the lessening the labours of the teacher; while the large and useful wall maps also are, in a few cases, removed from their proper place on the walls and shoved into a corner.


During the year I have visited all the Government-aided schools in the provincial district twice or oftener, save that at the Wairoa. More days have been occupied this year in travelling and in inspecting schools than in any former one.

I have been led to make the several general remarks I have on what I cannot but deem wanting and even reprovable in a few of our schools, in, I trust, a kindly spirit; for I should be very sorry if hereafter it should be remarked that I had overlooked all such matters.

Of School Prizes.

Under this head I would just observe that I am sure both scholars and teachers are thankful to the late Provincial Council of Hawke’s Bay for its liberal grant of a few pounds for this purpose, which has been advantageously used. Not a small amount of diligence and improvement on the part of the scholars is to be fairly ascribed to this, and I sincerely hope the Education Board will be pleased to afford a similar grant.


It will be seen from the tables that an increase to nearly all the schools has been made during the year, notwithstanding several of the elder scholars, both male and female, who were at many if not all of the schools at the commencement of the year, have left school to enter on active life.

In nearly all the schools there is much greater activity and diligence exhibited among the scholars in applying themselves to learning than there was formerly, and where such is not the case (which is, however, rare) it is mainly the fault of the parents, or teachers, or both. Indeed, my conviction is, as I stated four years ago in my report, that “the scholars are, on the whole, far in advance of a similar number of children in the Old Country, taken promiscuously, in capacity and in desire of learning.”

During the year a few poor children of both sexes have been admitted into some of the town and country schools free, on an Inspector’s order, but in no case without previous strict inquiry as to the ability of their parents, &c. Notwithstanding, I regret to say, there are still several children in the neighbourhood of schools, both in town and country, who are growing up without scholastic education mainly owing to the thoughtlessness of their parents.

I have already mentioned the great irregularity of attendance on the part of the scholars, which is, I believe, in nineteen cases out of twenty, not the fault of the scholar but of the parents, who not only keep the child at home for trifling matters, but also, not unfrequently in country places, just to save a few pence; as, for instance, when it rains on a Monday, then the child is almost sure to be kept at home for the remainder of that week, because the parents will not pay the week’s charge, small though it be, for a single day short of the full week; and so the poor child suffers.

For my own part —now that the provincial system of government has been abolished—I heartily wish that the Colonial Government will, at this approaching session, pass an Act containing a suitable comprehensive plan of general education: one by which education shall be open for all alike, both guaranteed and civil, or, in other words, liberal, compulsory, and secular (by secular I mean religious in the truest sense of the word, and at the same time wholly unsectarian). By such a system a better class of teachers, on the whole, will be obtained, who also will be better and more regularly paid; and at the same time a far better and more constant attendance of the children at school will be secured, whose progress will consequently be more steady and marked, to the ultimate satisfaction of all concerned—the parents and the children, the teachers, the Inspector, and the State. For I am more and more convinced, as I said in my report last year, that “such a system once well begun—in good and ample schoolhouses and with first-class trained teachers—would soon become established, grow more and more necessary and natural, and be heartily welcomed, and yield in due season an abundant crop of fruit.”

But, while I thus speak of trained teachers, I must be clearly understood to mean that a trained teacher, as such, is only the more valuable to his school and to the public when he has also the especial natural qualifications of a teacher in him, which no mere training can possibly impart; otherwise the untrained though educated man, possessing the aptness, the mind, and the heart which enable him to love his work in its entirety, and which peculiarly fit him for the office of teaching, will prove the better qualified and more useful man: such an one will be sure to gain the hearts of his pupils, and the corresponding advantages will be great and solid, and, though not so showy, will be seen and approved.

I have, &c,

William Colenso,

Inspector of Schools.

The Chairman of the Education Board, Hawke’s Bay.


1878 Petition of William Colenso. Presented to the House of Representatives, 24th September, 1878, and ordered to be printed.
To the Honorable the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.

The humble Petition of William Colenso, of Napier

Respectfully Showeth,—

That your petitioner was for several years, until lately, the Government Inspector of Schools for this provincial district.

That, from the formation of the Province of Hawke’s Bay, in 1858, to 1st May, 1878, your petitioner has continuously held several important public offices—viz., Provincial Auditor, Provincial Maori Interpreter, Provincial Treasurer (without clerk), and (twice) Provincial inspector of Schools.

That he, the second time, accepted the office of Provincial Inspector of Schools in 1872, and held the same until 1st May, 1878.

That for the first four years the salary was only £100, and for the last two (complete) years £150 per annum, although the visiting the distant country schools, through want of roads, was both difficult and dangerous.

That during the whole of this time all the clerical work usually pertaining to an Education Board and Secretary (there being no Education Board in Hawke’s Bay) was performed by your petitioner, even to the calculating and making out of the teachers’ quarterly vouchers, which duty was here particularly heavy, as all the teachers were paid by a capitation allowance, to be calculated on the daily average attendance.

That early in 1876 (after seeing the Commissioners—the Hon. Mr. Gisborne, Mr. Seed, and Mr. Knowles—appointed by your honorable House to visit the provinces, and to see the provincial officers) your petitioner wished to resign his office and to retire on some fair allowance, but was persuaded by the Superintendent and by the principal settlers to remain in office “for the benefit of the children of the district.”

That at the end of the year 1876 he, conditionally, resigned his office, unless the Education Board (then very recently appointed) would largely increase his salary, as the many heavy duties he had to perform took up the whole of his time.

That your petitioner received two pressing official replies from the Education Board to withdraw his resignation. A correct copy of one of them is here given:—

“Napier, 8th February, 1877.

Dear Sir,—I have laid your letter before the Board, and they, in common with myself, regret very much that you should resign.

“It is not the amount of the salary that is worth your while to stay for; but you are appealed to on other grounds—that you are eminently fitted for the post, and that you have given satisfaction to every one concerned; that the Board cannot afford to give more at present, and appeal to your public and patriotic feelings to further, as far as in your power lies, the education of the youth of this district.

“The Board, therefore, beg you to reconsider the whole question, and continue your services for another year.—I have, &c., “Joseph Rhodes,

“Chairman, Education Board.

“To the Inspector of Schools.”

That, consequently, your petitioner consented to remain in office for another year.

That in February, 1978, he reminded the Education Board of his having only consented to continue to hold office at that low salary for the year 1877, which was expired.

That then the Education Board raised his salary to £300 per annum, to commence, however, from the 1st of March, 1878.

That very soon after (early in that same month of March) your petitioner found the Education Board had adopted the peculiar opinion that they could not interfere with the appointments of teachers made by country School Committees; of such, three, at least, had then just been made, and that, too, directly against a late official letter from your petitioner to the Education Board on this subject.

That this very opinion of your petitioner (as by him officially communicated to the Hawke’s Bay Education Board, and by them disallowed) has since been shown to be the correct one by the Hon the Attorney-General.

That your petitioner, finding such to be the opinion of the Education Board, and fearing a collision ere long, resigned his office, to take place at the end of the current quarter, March.

That the Education Board accepted the same, but requested your petitioner to continue in office until the 30th of April—the newly-elected Board entering on their duties on the 1st of May.

That your petitioner again consented to do so.

That during that month of April, while busily employed in visiting the country schools, your petitioner was so greatly beset by parents of scholars, Magistrates, old settlers, teachers of schools, and children (pupils), to apply to the Education Board for the office of Inspector (which was then thrown open by advertisement to applicants), that he was induced to do so, and did so; having also been assured by members of both the old (or first) Education Board (which was still acting), and also of the new Education Board (then recently elected), that, if he would but do so, his offer would be gladly accepted. Further, the knowledge of his being about to do so kept back several private friends (eminently fit and proper persons) from applying for the said office.

That the new Education Board (or those of them who happened to be present), immediately on their sitting, appointed the present Inspector of Schools to the office (a gentleman then resident at Christchurch) at a salary of £450, with largely-increased travelling allowances, and also a Secretary at £150 per annum.

That at the same time the Education Board unanimously passed and recorded a resolution speaking most favourably of your petitioner, and at the same time sent him the following letter:—

“Hawke’s Bay Education Board, Napier, 21st May, 1878.

Sir,—I have the honor to convey to you, on behalf of the Hawke’s Bay Education Board, its sense of the very valuable services rendered by you to the cause of education in this district during the time you held the position of Inspector of Schools, which you have just resigned. In carrying out the wish of the Board, in expressing regret at your retirement, I am glad personally to have the opportunity of thanking you for the cordial and zealous manner in which the difficult duties attached to the position of Inspector were carried out by you during the years you acted in that capacity under the late Provincial Government at the time I was Superintendent. I but do justice to the services you have rendered when I state my conviction that the efficiency of the schools is largely owing to the conscientious and earnest manner in which you discharged the duties of your office. Regretting the loss of your services,—I have, &c., “J. D. Ormond,

“Chairman, Education Board of Hawke’s Bay.

“To William Colenso, Esq., Napier.”

That, under all those circumstances (herein very briefly expressed), your petitioner believes that he has a very fair claim to lay before your honorable House for some compensation, either under the head of loss of office (as hitherto commonly allowed by the Colonial Government to all Provincial Government officers on the abolition of provinces), or under that of retirement from active public service through age.

Your humble petitioner further respectfully showeth,—That, from the time of his arriving in New Zealand in 1834, down to (at least) the formation of this Province of Hawke’s Bay in 1858, a period of twenty-five years, your petitioner had ever been an assiduous and ready public helper of all the several British constituted authorities in New Zealand and of the Colonial Governments; which many letters of thanks for such services amply show, particularly from the British Resident, Mr. Busby; from the New South Wales Land Commissioners, Sir M. Richmond and Colonel Godfrey; from the first Governor, Captain Hobson; from Mr. Willoughby Shortland; from Sir M. Richmond, while Superintendent of the southern part of the colony; from Lieutenant-Governor Eyre; from Mr. Domett, Colonial Secretary; from Dr. Featherston, while Superintendent of Wellington; from Colonel Wyatt, commanding the 65th Regiment, while stationed here at Napier; from Mr. (afterwards Sir Donald) McLean; from Mr. Domett, the first Resident Magistrate here at Napier, 1854–56; also from many of our early settlers for help afforded them on peculiarly trying occasions between them and the Maoris (two in particular, not wholly unknown to some of the members of your honorable House, in which my own life was in jeopardy owing to my interference—I may be allowed to mention that of Mr. Barton, at the White Rocks, in 1845, and that of Mr. Guthrie, at Castlepoint, a few years later); for all of which help and aid, including the heavy manual labour in compositing and printing the Treaty of Waitangi, and all the first Proclamations, notices, and forms, and also the first Gazette, for the Colonial Government under Governor Hobson (all which it may be further stated—if only as a curiosity—were composited from types placed on tables and on the floor! through my not having any printers’ type-cases made for the letters of the English alphabet); for all of which assistance your petitioner never received the slightest remuneration.

Lastly, that your petitioner, having once had the honor of a seat in your honorable Assembly, and that for five successive years (during the trying times of the war.—186l–65), and therefore practically knowing something of its high and equitable character, believes that your honorable House will be pleased to take these various matters, herein briefly advanced or mentioned, into its consideration, and grant to him, as an old and early pioneer in New Zealand (now nearing the “allotted, threescore years and ten”), that compensation which, under all the circumstances, your honorable House may deem equitable.

And your petitioner will ever pray.

William Colenso.


1879 On the Moa.
Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 12: 63-108.

[Read before the Hawke’s Bay Philosophical Institute, 10th June, 1878, and 13th October, 1879.]

For some time past I have been thinking of bringing this interesting subject before you, and that for several reasons.

1. Because this animal is purely a New Zealand one, and not only so, but it is, I think I may safely say, to be classed among the animal wonders of the world.

2. Because here in Hawke’s Bay (Napier) but little is known of it—nothing indeed when compared with Christchurch, Wellington, and other towns, where also fine specimens of its entire skeleton may be seen in the Museums.370 I believe that I may fairly infer, that not a few of you present have not yet heard any account of it—never yet seen any of its bones, save these which I now lay before you,371 much less an entire mounted skeleton, such as are in those photographs, now on the table, procured from Christchurch. [64]

3. Because I diligently sought after it, and wrote very early about it, before New Zealand became a colony, in 1838–1842; and yet, though that early paper had been twice published, both in Tasmania and in England, I do not think there is a single copy in the Colony save my own. Indeed, I have failed to procure one at any price in London.

4. Because that early-written paper on the Moa has been frequently referred to and quoted in many scientific works published in Europe and America, as well as by Dr. Von Haast in the volumes of the “Transactions of the New Zealand Institute” in our Library.

5. Because I have been subsequently repeatedly written to, appealed to, and importuned, both from Europe and within the Colony, respecting what I had published, and also asked to add to what I first made known about it.

6. Because I have, during the past few years, been again seeking from every possible source to gather up anything that was left concerning the Moa.

Those are among the chief reasons which incline me now to bring this subject before you. I think you will agree with me as to their validity.

I propose, therefore, to divide my paper into two parts—1. What I originally wrote on the Moa (which being wholly unknown to you will be new); and 2. To bring before you all additional information which I have subsequently gleaned respecting it.

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