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



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Hymenophyllum pusillum.502


Plant both epiphytical and terrestrial; rhizome red, wiry, creeping, hairy; hairs red.

Frond 4–8 lines long, oblong-ovate, obtuse, pinnate, 4–5 jugate, bearing long, red, broad, curved scales on its veins on both surfaces; pinnæ petiolate free, mostly opposite, lobed or sub-pinnatifid on the upper side only, lowermost pair always opposite and generally 3-lobed; rhachis not winged, save a very little at top, lobes very small and confluent at apex; stipe 3–7 lines long, capillary, flexuose; stipe and rhachis bearing scattered red chaffy scales; segments or lobes, obovate-elliptic, not linear, very obtuse or truncate, semi-transparent, largely serrate or laciniate, the teeth or laciniations very long for size of plant and wholly composed of the fine texture of the frond and often revolute never spinulose, generally five teeth at the apex of a lobe; involucres terminal and supra-axillary on the uppermost pinnæ, obovate, divided about halfway down, not compressed, and bearing red hairy scales; lips toothed; receptacle included; sori red.

Hab.—On trunks of living trees, and on the earth at their bases, in dense shady forests throughout the North Island; but sparingly. First detected (barren) on Te Ranga mountain, head-waters of Waikare, Bay of Islands, 1836; again (but barren) at the head of the Wairarapa Valley, 1852; and again, and in fruit, in the forests, west slopes of Ruahine mountain range, near the head-waters of the River Manawatu, 1878–9–80; generally found on Olea sp.

This little plant is nearly allied to Hymenophyllum tunbridgense, H. revolutum (mihi),503 H. minimum, and other of the smaller Hymenophyllæ; but on close comparison with them (living specimens) it will be found to be abundantly distinct. To me it appears as a necessary needful species [367] required to connect those species above referred to in a natural sequence. It is one of those ferns which, though distinct, it is difficult to describe specifically in words, as Sir W.J. Hooker, long ago, often remarked in his valuable works on ferns. Having, however, lately obtained specimens of Hymenophyllum tunbridgense (vera) from England, I am positive of its specific distinction; the typical British plant being wholly glabrous, having its rhachis strongly winged throughout (extending downward in some instances to the upper part of its stipe), its lobes always narrow “linear,” and serrate not slashed, teeth spinulose and hard not thin, with only 2–3 teeth at the apex of a lobe, and its fructification invariably supra-axillary and never terminal. But with botanists who make but one species of those two widely differing ferns—H. tunbridgense and H. wilsoni—of course this little fellow would be only deemed a variety of H. tunbridgense.


Trichomanes venustula.504


Plant creeping, epiphytical, pendulous on trunks of living trees; rhizome capillary, creeping, woolly.

Fronds pendulous, pinnate, 4–6 (sometimes 7) jugate, dark-green, glabrous, semi-transparent, oblong, somewhat deltoid, obtuse, 1–2 inches long, 6–12 lines wide; pinnæ petiolate, close not crowded, tolerably regular, lowermost pair mostly opposite and generally the largest, flabellate and rhomboid-acuminate, sub-pinnatifid or deeply cut on both sides, trinerved, each nerve a little waved and giving out pinnate veins, veinlets simple or forked, margin slightly sinuous; segments generally 3–5 on a pinna, obtuse or retuse, cuneate at base, middle one linear and much produced; involucres scattered on both edges of pinnæ, 2–5 on a pinna, upper half free or with one side attached to frond, tubular or slightly funnel-shaped, mouth much dilated, plane, equal all round: receptacle setaceous and exserted, 2–6 lines long, curved; rhachis winged slightly at apex; stipe 9–12 lines long, capillary, flexuose; both stipe and rhachis green, nearly same colour as frond: stipe always black at base.

Hab.—On trunks of living trees, dense shady damp forests, west slopes of Ruahine mountain range, head of the River Manawatu; 1878–9.

This little novelty is nearly allied to Trichomanes venosum, Brown; differing, however, in several respects, especially in its sub-flabellate trinerved pinnæ, in its rhachis not being winged, and in its involucres, which are also numerous and scattered on both edges of its pinnæ.

While growing pretty plentifully in that locality, though only hitherto detected on a few trees, it is not very often found in fruit; at the same time some insect seems to be very fond of its fronds, which are generally more or less gnawed. Showing, in this respect also, a great difference to its ally T. venosum, which, on the neighbouring tree-ferns, luxuriates untouched in all its glossy beauty. It was only in this last year (1879), after very diligent research, that I succeeded in obtaining good fruiting specimens of this plant.

P.S.—Specimens of all the Plants described in this Paper have been forwarded with it to the Manager of the New Zealand Institute, for the Herbarium of the Colonial Museum, Wellington.



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1880 On the vegetable food of the ancient New Zealanders before Cook’s visit. Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 13: 3-38.

[Read before the Hawke’s Bay Philosophical Institute, 9th August and 13th September, 1880.]

Two gross errors have largely and repeatedly been industriously published concerning the ancient Maoris, and these, too, from our first knowledge of them:—(1) their utter ignorance of almost every art pertaining to society; and (2) their great want of food. Hence, it has been also said, almost as a necessary deduction therefrom, that the poor creatures were necessarily in a savage and starving state; from which their subsequent intercourse with Europeans had gradually served to raise them. For my own part, I more than doubt all this elevated assertion of their civilized Northern visitors; indeed, I am quite prepared wholly to deny it, as far as relates to the Maoris of the North Island. In some of my former papers concerning the Maoris, read before you, I have endeavoured to show, plainly and truly, a little of what they really were as to very many of the useful and the ornamental arts which once flourished among them (and more I yet hope to bring forward as bearing on this head); this serves to meet the first-mentioned of those two errors: while, to-night, I purpose in part taking up the second, and, in doing so, shall confine myself to a consideration of their vegetable food in the olden time (a subject but very imperfectly known); and also show that they, the natives of this North Island, had attained to a very high system of agriculture, which was purely national and loved, and passionately, judiciously, and universally followed everywhere among them.

To me—after so long a residence as mine, of nearly half a century—the origin of this belief of their having been greatly in want of food is clear and [4] plain. 1. Cook first visited them at the very period of their planting season; or, rather, when he anchored in Tolaga Bay, it was just over, as he himself states; so that of their cultivated vegetable roots they could not possibly spare any—that particular time being with them always one of scarcity of crop-vegetable food, from the fact of their one principal cultivated root (the produce of seed from the previous autumnal season) not keeping sound beyond the regular period of setting it in the earth. Moreover, two things must here be steadily borne in mind:—(1) their cultivations were always strictly tabooed, and therefore could not be intruded on; and (2) every chief had several plantations, and always far apart from each other, for prudent political reasons. Notwithstanding this, Cook says that he saw; at Tolaga Bay alone, “from 150 to 200 acres under crop,” and that, too, in a place with a small population; for, he adds, “we never saw there 100 people.”505 2. At all of Cook’s visits (with the one exception of his touching, on his first voyage, at Tolaga Bay, and his subsequent call in at the Bay of Islands) he anchored and staid in places where the Maoris did not have any cultivations; indeed, it is doubtful whether the Maoris of the Southern Island ever had any. Hence, when they visited his ships in their canoes, and often from a distance, they had little or nothing in the shape of vegetable food with them save fern-root, and were therefore supposed to be in great need of victuals, and not unfrequently experienced the generosity of their visitors, which (as we ourselves have subsequently too often found) encouraged them to adopt and persist in a habit of systematic begging. 3. And this, too, has been often the case with them in their subsequent intercourse with shipping and with visitors, and also in the early years of the Colony,—the Maoris in visiting or coming among the Whites have been without food, just because they were away from their homes and cultivations; much, indeed, as it is with ourselves in travelling, etc., in a new or unsettled country. 4. There still, however, remains the fact that modern writers on the Maoris (as Manning and Taylor506) who have resided a long time in New Zealand, state the same; all I can say is, that they are altogether wrong in their conclusions; they, not having witnessed it themselves in the past, suppose [5] it to have been so, from what little they have seen around them during the modern transition period of the Maoris, and from their own English ideas. The old, intelligent, thoughtful, industrious Maoris of the North Island have always denied it. What they said, was (1) they had not such good natural gifts—fruits, roots, vegetables, cereals, etc.—as the Europeans; and (2) they had vastly more labour in obtaining and preparing for food what they really had around them, particularly in the matter of vegetables.

The ancient New Zealander had great plenty of good and wholesome food, both animal and vegetable, but all such with them was only to be obtained by labour, in one shape or the other, almost unremitting. To them Nature has not been over-indulgent as she had been to their relatives in the more Eastern and tropical Isles of the South Pacific—where the bread-fruit and the banana, the cocoanut and the plantain grew spontaneously, and yielded, without toil, their delightful fruits to man! But all such constant labour and industry was doubtless in their favour, helping to “the survival of the fittest,” and causing the development of a finer race, both physically and intellectually. The old Maoris were great fishers and fowlers—and hunters too, in their diligent snaring of their prized, fat, frugivorous forest rat; but, for the present, I shall omit all reference to their animal food, confining myself to their being industrious and successful agriculturalists and cultivators of the soil.

And this one chief and noble industry duly considered shows how far, how very far, they were in advance of the mere hunter, or fisher; the true savage man of both ancient and modern times,—whether we look for him (his remains) in Europe, among pre-historic cave relics of days long gone by, or among the modern inhabitants of Patagonia and Magellan Straits, or those nearer neighbours of South Australia and Tasmania.

Indeed, their being great cultivators, and that from very ancient times, places them high in the true scale of civilization and real advance. Far even beyond that state to which our own forefathers the Britons, and also the Germans, had advanced when Cæsar first led his victorious Roman legions among them.507 I know of no ancient people who, without the knowledge or use of metals, had advanced so far in this direction. In this respect they serve to remind me of the Peruvians under their Incas, though [6] that people possessed both metals and beasts of burden. All Eastern nations, from their earliest annals, were ever famed for their attachment to the cultivation of the soil. The Egyptians and the Phœnicians, the little nation of the Jews, the Persians,508 and the Chinese,—and afterwards (and from them) the Greeks and the Romans, not only supported and patronized it, and wrote books in praise of it,509 but actually followed it themselves, each noble labouring on his respective farm, much as the Maori chiefs themselves did.

And this national custom long-continued (as I have already mentioned) was, in my opinion, the reason why the New Zealander also excelled in so many of the arts practised by him—agriculture being, in its primitive and rudest form, the first step in civilization; and this industry once practised and liked is sure to improve, and to lead on gradually to its own rich development. Xenophon has truly remarked that “Agriculture is the nursing-mother of the Arts; for where Agriculture succeeds prosperously there the Arts thrive; but where the earth necessarily lies uncultivated, there the other Arts are destroyed.” (Œconomics.) And a learned modern writer (Dr. Kalisch) has judiciously observed, in remarking on the early agriculture of the world,— “It is a deep trait in the Biblical account to ascribe the origin of cities to none but the agriculturist. Unlike the nomad, who changes his temporary tents whenever the state of the pasture requires it, the husbandman is bound to the globe which he cultivates; the soil to which he devotes his strength and his anxieties becomes dear to him; and that part of the earth to which he owes his sustenance assumes a character of holiness in his eyes,510—he fixes there his permanent abode, and considers its loss a curse of God. Thus the agriculturist was compelled to build houses and to form a town. Many inventions of mechanical skill are inseparable from the building of towns; ingenuity was aroused and exercised; and whilst engaged in satisfying the moral desire of sociability, man [7] brought many of his intellectual powers into efficient operation.” (Com. on Gen., IV.) No doubt such, or similar, was the case here in New Zealand of old—in ages long past! Hence, too, arose their towns possessing really good houses, strong and well fortified places of strength, etc.,—such as their neighbours the Australians and Tasmanians never knew! such as this generation of Maoris has scarcely ever seen or dreamt of! Hence, too, the very strong attachment shown by not a few of the older Maoris in our days, to the homes and to the cultivations of their forefathers; a fine and estimable feeling, which, in not a few instances, has been rudely mocked and opposed!

In a former paper on the ancient Maoris,511 I brought before you several of their fit and pertinent proverbs relating to Industry and to Agriculture (which I merely refer to here in passing); and to the same subjects, in addition thereto, some of their traditional incidents, historical and legendary, in their oldest legends undoubtedly belong;—e.g., that of their favourite and beneficent hero Maui catching and binding the sun, to prevent his travelling so fast, “so that man might have longer day-light to work in;” and that of another hero named Tamatea, who “first set fire to and burnt up the rank vegetation of tangled weeds and jungle, that man might have a clear space of ground wherein to grow food;” two beautiful and worthy ideas, which could only have proceeded from an agricultural and working race. Hence, too, very possibly, under similar ideas and feelings, may we look for the peculiar derivation of their verb and noun for laziness, and to be lazy,—especially with respect to active work, viz., mangere (ma and ngere),—ma, the active preposition “for,” and ngere, their name for any hideous or disagreeable cancer or corroding ulcer,—i.e., the lazy fellow is food for the ngere! A term ever greatly disliked among them.




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