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GEOLOGICAL AND TOPOGRAPHICAL
PROVINCE OF NEW ULSTER.
The following remarks made by a late writer on New Zealand and its Government in 1845, are so full of truth, that they form perhaps the best introduction that could be offered to the following brief and imperfect sketches:--
"It is matter of much regret that among all the numerous items of expenditure of the New Zealand Government, not a shilling has been expended in the attempt to explore the country; to discover either its mineral or vegetable treasures; not even a surveyor has travelled through the country; nothing has been bestowed on the attempt to obtain the slightest knowledge of the geography, botany, mineralogy, or geology of our country." * * * "For all that we know of the resources of the country, we are entirely indebted to private energy and enterprise. The Government has done nothing whatever either to develope or make known the natural wealth of New Zealand."--From S. M. D. Martin's New Zealand in 1845.
It is indeed much to be regretted that no scientific exploration has as yet been made of this important Colony, with a view to the developement of its natural resources, which are undoubtedly great, but which for want of the requisite knowledge of them, are likely to remain for years a sealed book. To the intending settler, as well as to the actual Colonist, it is of the utmost importance that the country of their adoption should be properly explored and surveyed, its physical geography, geology, mineralogy and botany, and generally every matter of interest connected with it made known.
With an expenditure which may be termed profuse for objects of doubtful public utility, might not a small sum be devoted to the important object of a correct topographical survey of the province, embracing a general outline of its mountain ranges, and geological features? Such a survey and map would be of the utmost utility to those who have to decide on the best lines of roads which it may be deemed advisable in future to construct through the country, as it would show at a glance, the most advantageous lines to adopt, showing as it would, the natural features of the country, including those two remarkable classes of lines which present themselves in connexion with these natural features, namely, the lines of the water-courses, which form the lowest lines of the valleys; and the lines of the dividing ridges, which are the highest lines of the main chains and spurs; each of these classes possessing the remarkable property of being lines of the greatest declivity of the surfaces to which they respectively belong.
A correct topographical map of the Province would also shew the localities in which the various mineral substances used in the arts, for constructions and roads, are to be found, such for instance as building stones, granites, marbles, materials for roads, and finer materials for ornamental purposes} clays suited for pottery ware, limestones, gypsum, flagstones, roofing slates, and lastly coal, and the metalliferous deposits of copper, iron, lead, &c.
The position and extent of these important deposits, to which England owes so much of her wealth and prosperity, can only be vaguely intimated by description, but would at once be clearly and distinctly recognized by reference to a good topographical and geological map of the Province.
The immense importance to the Colony of these internal sources of wealth can scarcely require comment, particularly at the present time, and on this point it may be observed that from the limited and partial exploration of the country by the writer and others, it is ascertained that we possess in abundance the ores of numerous metals, in addition to large carboniferous deposits in the interior. With these sources of wealth at our command, all that is wanted is the application of capital to make them
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productive; and it is chiefly with the view, and in the hope that public attention may be drawn to these important objects, that the following brief and imperfect sketches have been hastily penned.
It may further be observed, that few countries present so many inducements for geological researches as are to be met with in New Zealand; the Northern Province in particular, presenting a highly interesting geological and mineral aspect, and offering a very beautiful illustration of the great leading principles of geology, as it presents a very complete assemblage of rocks, from the most ancient, to those of comparatively modern origin. These rocks are also disposed in such a manner as strongly to mark the physical geography of the Province; and while its extensive line of sea-coast presents innumerable natural sections of the various rocks and strata, many of which after ranging regularly across the island, are terminated by bold cliffs upon our shores; opportunities equally numerous and instructive, for studying the geology of the interior, are afforded by the numerous valleys formed by the larger rivers, some of which extend for many miles inland, and intersect the interior.
The writer cannot perhaps conclude this introductory notice better than in the words of that talented individual and eminent geologist, Sir Humphry Davy, who concludes one of his lectures in the following words:--
"The science of geology is yet in an infant state; the great arrangements only are as yet known, and whoever furnishes to it new histories of facts, becomes an improver of the science. The ease with which discoveries are made, ought undoubtedly to fix the attention of active spirits. In this department of knowledge there are fields of investigation yet unexplored, rich in fact and theory, and the subject is one equally fitted for an exertion of the memory, the reason and the imagination. " * * *
"The person who is attached to geological pursuits, can scarcely ever want objects of employment and of interest. The ground on which he treads, the country which surrounds him, and even the rocks and stones removed from their natural position by art, are all capable of affording him some gratification. And every new mine and quarry that is opened, every new surface of the earth that is laid bare, and every new country that is discovered, opens novel sources of information. In travelling, he is interested in a pursuit which must constantly preserve the mind awake to the scenes presented to it; and the beauty, the majesty, the sublimity of the great forms of nature, must necessarily be enhanced by the contemplation of their order, their mutual dependence, and their connexion as a whole. The imagery of a mountain country, which is the very theatre of the science, is in almost all cases, highly impressive, and delightful; but a new and nobler species of enjoyment arises in the mind when the arrangement in it, its uses and its subserviency of life, are considered."
"To the geological enquirer, every mountain-chain affords decided proofs of the great alterations that the globe has undergone.
The most sublime speculations are awakened, the mind is carried back into past ages, new forms of existence are presented to it, and a boundless enquiry, the destruction of a former order of things, and a system arranged with harmony, filled with beauty, and life, formed from its elements, and established on its ruins."
F. S. P.
Auckland, May 12th, 1852.