1878 - Buller, James. Forty years in New Zealand - APPENDICES. - APPENDIX D. ...NATURAL HISTORY OF NEW ZEALAND.

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  1878 - Buller, James. Forty years in New Zealand - APPENDICES. - APPENDIX D. ...NATURAL HISTORY OF NEW ZEALAND.
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i. Zoology.

New Zealand is singularly destitute of quadrupeds: the only terrestrial mammalia known are those of a small rat; and a bat, of which there are two kinds. The rat is all but extinct. Of marine mammalia, there are the whale, the bottle-nose seal, sea lion, sea bear, the dolphin, and the grampus. Whales and seals were formerly very plentiful, and yielded large supplies of oil. There were eight kinds of whale on the coast.

The birds of New Zealand amount to one hundred and thirty-six, of which number seventy-three are land-birds. The gigantic wingless Moa, or Dinornis, is extinct. The Apteryx, or Kiwi, a remarkable wingless bird, about the size of a large fowl, is still found in the mountains. There are not less than six varieties of parrots, two of which keep to the alpine solitudes and the extreme cold.

There are three birds of passage: two from the warmer latitudes, which appear only in the summer; and the third from colder regions, and is seen in New Zealand, in large flocks, in the winter season. The first are the Koheperoa and the Pipi-wharauroa, two species of the cuckoo; and the latter are the Zosterops, of the family of the Luscinidae. They are of great use in clearing the trees of noxious insects.

There are three honey-birds: I. The Tui, or Parson-bird, so called from its having two tufts of white feathers on the neck, which, contrasted with its shining jet plumage, may be compared to a clergyman's gown and bands. It is also a good mockingbird. It belongs to the family of the Melli phagidae. 2. The

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Kotihe {Pogonomis cincta), a beautiful bird with a velvety black head and wings: it has a bright yellow circle round the lower part of the neck and wings, and is about the size of a bullfinch. 3. The Korimako (Anthomis melanura). This is the sweetest songster of the country, and is commonly called the Bell Bird. These honey-birds have brush tongues, hence named trichoglossi.

The smallest bird is a little wren called Riroriro. It is of a greyish yellow colour, and very tame. The Cuckoo {Pipi-wharauroa) lays its eggs in the nest of the riroriro. The Piopio (Turdidae) is a woodpecker, of the size of a thrush. The Piwakawaka {Muscicapidae) is a fly-catcher--a pretty lively bird, with a fan-tail, and very tame; it was sacred to Maui. The Miromiro, a little black and white bird, flies about graves and solitary bushes. The Kukupa, or wood-pigeon, of the family Columbidae, is a fine large bird, and easily shot; when in season, it is excellent eating. The Kotuku, or the white crane (Ardea flavirostris), is an elegant but rare bird: it is so seldom seen, that it has become a saying among the Maories: "A man sees the white crane only once in his lifetime." The Paradise Duck {Putangitangi) is abundant in the South Island. It is a very tine bird, but not equal in flavour to the other wild ducks. There are three kinds of rail; and two hawks--the falcon and the sparrow-hawk. The Ruru is a small owl. The Huia (Upupidae) is greatly prized, by the natives, for the graceful white feathers of its tail. The New Zealand robin is a grave, but social bird.

For a full account, I refer the ornithologist to the "History of the Birds of New Zealand," by my son, Dr. Buller, C.M.G. 1

Two sorts of lizards are to be met with, the Tuatara and the Kakariki--the former eighteen inches and the latter eight inches long. According to native accounts, there were formerly many species, and some of them of very large size. Frogs have been found, but very rarely. There are no snakes of any kind; nor is there any venomous insect but the Katipo, a black spider which confines itself to sedgy grass on the seaside; unless I reckon in this category the sand-fly, which bites by day in sandy spots, and the mosquito, which is troublesome in swampy

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places and in the forests. The locust, or grasshopper, is a numerous family. There are several spiders, but all except the Katipo are called Puawere. There are various grubs, one of which pierces the Puriri, the hardest timber in New Zealand, and makes a hole equal to the size of a large nail. The Weta is a forest cricket, three inches long. Dragon-flies are of four or five varieties; and there are several kinds of ants. A large forest bug emits an offensive effluvia. Butterflies are few. Of moths there is one that measures nearly six inches across, from the tip of one wing to the other. The vegetating caterpillar (Hotete) is a singular production. It is found at the roots of the rata, the black maire, and the manuka. The meat-flies are said to have been imported from New South Wales. Leeches exist on land, and in the lakes and ponds; and some worms attain to a very large size.

The variety and abundance of fish in the rivers, and on the coast, are very great. No less than ninety-two sorts are known; and many of them are excellent. The Kahawai resembles the mackerel of England. The Kanae compares with the mullet. Lampreys, shrimps, and whitebait, are found in abundance. Both the salmon and the trout have been successfully introduced. A collection of 240 varieties of shells has been made belonging to the families of Strombidae, Muricidae, Buccinidae, Volutidae, Cypraedae, Turbinidae, Trichidae, Haliolidae, Fissurellidae, Lottiadae, Neritidae, Janthinidae, Naticidae, Littormidae, Vermetidae, Crepidulidae, Bullidae, Pterotracheidae, Argonautidae, Doridae, Tritoniadae, Patellidae, Chitonidae, Helicidae, Onchidiadae, Amphibolidae, Siphonariadae, Lymneadae, Veneridae, Mactridae:, Mesodesmida, Saxicavidae, Cardiadae. Tellinidae, Pholadae, Solenidae, Anatinidae, Corbulidae, Solenomyadae, Carditidae, Lucinidae, Unionidae, Arcadae, Mytilidae, Pinnidae, Pectinidae, Ostreidae, Anomiadae, Terebatulidae, Octopodidae, Sepiadae, Spirulidae, Tunicata, and Radiata. Of annulose animals, there are 156, under the classes of Crustacea, Myriapoda, Arachnida, and Insecta.

2. Botany.

The botany of New Zealand has a character distinctively its own. The number of known species of plants is 632, of which

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314 are dicotyldonous, or endogenous, and the rest monocotyledonous and cellular. Nothing like the flowery fields of England meets the eye of the immigrant, when he lands on his adopted country. Plains of sombre fern, or tussock-grass, present a contrast to the aspect of his native land. The palm, dracenas, and fern trees, are the most striking objects in the landscape. He will note a paucity of flowering plants. In England there are, however, but two scarlet flowers indigenous to the soil, the poppy and the pimpernel; while in the New Zealand woods there are six or seven belonging to shrubs or timber trees. The dark and glossy green foliage, while unlike the rounded trees of the parks and groves of the old country, presents a refreshing sight compared with the glaucous colour of the Australian bush.

The most tropical of all New Zealand trees is the Nikau {Areca sapida); this is the only representative of Palmae. It is a graceful and a beautiful tree. It attains the height of forty feet; it is a foot in diameter, and the flower forms a large droop of a flesh colour, succeeded by a bunch of berries. It is found nowhere but in the thick forest. The Ti {Cordyline Australis) is found in all places except the inland plains. The Tingahere {Cordyline stricta) is very like the ti; and the Toi {Dracena indivisa) has a strong fibre, a broad leaf, and a fragrant flower. The Harakeke {Phormium tenax) is universal, and useful for a great variety of purposes. The Rengarenge {Anthropodium cirrhatum) is a pretty flowering lily. The Kareao {Ripagonum parviflorum) is the supple-jack, a cane which climbs to the tops of the highest trees, and makes the forest impassable until a pathway is cut. It is useful in fences, bears a sweet-smelling flower, and the pigeons feed on the berries. Among the climbing plants which cling to the trees for support, the Freycinetia Banksii is the most remarkable. It belongs to the family of the Pandanaceae. The genus Libertia has three species--grandiflora, ixioides, and micrantha. Of the terrestrial Orchideae, there are--Thelymitra Forsteri, Orthoceras strictum, Microtis Banksii, Acianthus rivularis, Pterostylis Banksii, and Gastrodia sesamoides. There are two kinds of Piperaceae: Peperomia urvillianae, and the Kawakawa {P. excelsum). In the interior, another pepper-tree grows, called the Horopito {Drimis axillaris).

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The Kauri {Damara Australis) is a noble tree. It rises sometimes two hundred feet high, with a girth of forty, and a clear stem, without a branch, nearly a hundred feet. Its timber is valuable, and the resin that exudes from the tree is a profitable export. The Toatoa {Podocarpus asplenifolius) grows in large clumps; the bark makes a brown dye. The Tanekaha {Phyllocladus trichomomoides) is a beautiful tree which flourishes on the sides of hills. The wood is close-grained, durable, and fragrant. The bark makes a strong dye. The fruit of the Miro {Podocarpus ferruginea) is of a bright red colour, and aromatic in its flavour. Pigeons fatten on it. The wood is valuable, but does not attain a large size. The Totara {Podocarpus totara) is greatly prized for the excellence of its timber. The Kahikatea {Podocarpus excelsus) is called the White Pine. It thrives best in swampy ground. It grows to a large size, but the timber is not durable. There is a yellow variety which is more valued. The Matai {Dacrydium mai) is very like the yew; it becomes a large tree, and is much used for making furniture. Kawaka {Dacrydium plumosum) has a remarkable leaf, and affords a durable wood. Rimu {Dacrydium cupressinum) is one of the most ornamental trees of New Zealand; its green foliage hangs down in graceful festoons. It is called the Red Pine. The fragrance of the wood, when burnt as fuel, is very pleasant. The timber is much prized for furniture and house-building. There is another pine called Hutu {Phyllocladus hutu), which is much like the Australian cedar.

The Onga-onga {Urtica ferox), and {Urtica debilis), belong to the family of the Urticeae. The Micromania Cunninghamii are of the family of the Labiaceae. Anchusa spatulata and Myosotes Forsterii, of the family Boraginaceae;. Powiwi {Calystegia sepium) is the common convolvulus, and the Panahi {Calystegia soldanella) the common bindweed. Hangehange {Geniostoma legustrifolium), of the family Loganaceae. Gentiana sacosa, Gentiana montana, and Sebaea gracilis, of the family Gentianaceae. Parsonsia heterophylla, of the family Apocynaciae. Olea apetela, a tree similar to the iron-wood of Norfolk Island, of the Oleacae family. Achras costata, of the family Saptoaceae. Tipau, Mapu {Myrsine urvilliae), and the Myrsine divaricata, of the family Myrsinaceae.

The Karaka {Corynocarpus laevigata) resembles the English

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laurel, but grows to the size of a timber tree. The leaf is large, glossy, and of a dark green. The fruit is like a date, but not agreeable. The American family Epacrideae has many members, the most beautiful of which is the Nene {Dracophyllum latifolium). The Rimuroa is the blue-bell. There are several sorts of Lobelia. Of Compositae there are some tribes and genera: four sorts of daisy. Mistletoe is found on the kahikatoa, the tawai, the puriri, and other trees. On the central plains are several varieties of umbelliferous plants. Sorrel, white and yellow, and of differing sizes, is plentiful;. and there are several kinds of the Geranium. The Kohekohe makes a large tree; its leaves have a tonic property, and its wood resembles mahogany. The Titoki is valuable in ship-building, and the Ake (Dodonaea spatulata) is the toughest of all woods. The Wau produces wood as light as cork; and the Hohere, a fine net-like fibre under the outer bark. The Hinau {Eleocarpus hinau) bears bunches of fragrant bell flowers. The Hibiscus vesicarius. is a shrub which bears both white and pink flowers. The Ririwa {Linum monagynum), Tarata {Pittosporum crassifolium), Ramaraa [Myrtus bullata), Piripiri wata {Carpodetus serratus), Kumarahou (Pennantia corymbosa), Tauhinu (Ericifolia), Tupakihi {Coriaria sarmentosa), Warangi (Rutaceae). The Pukerangiora (Melicope simplex), Kaikaiatua (Pimelia virgata), Koromiko (Veronica salicifolia), Wainatua [Rhabdothamnus solandri), Poroporo (Solanum lacinatum), Pukapuka (Brachyglotis repanda), and many more, are all flowering shrubs.

The Tarata (Pittosporum crassifolium) produces turpentine. Piki arero is a Clematis with a large white scentless flower. There is a very fragrant one called Puatautana. The Towai (Leiospernum racemosum) grows into a large tree. The Kohutuhutu is the only deciduous tree native to the country; it is the Fuchsia excorticata, for it sheds its bark. There are several varieties of Myrtaceae. The Kahikatoa (Leptospermum scopiarum) forms a handsome tree. The Pohutukawa grows only among rocky cliffs, It bears rich scarlet blossoms, and the timber is greatly valued in ship-building. The Kowai {Edwardsia microphylla), and the Kowaingutu-kaka (grandiflora; Clianthus puniscens), are handsome shrubs, the former bearing pendent yellow blossoms, and the latter rich scarlet flowers in the shape

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of a parrot's beak. The Tawa {Laurus tawa) is a fine-looking tree, but good only for fuel. The Puriri {Vitex littoralis) belongs to the same order as the teak.

Besides the above, three are climbing plants, such as the Aka {Metrosideros buxifolia), the Rata {robusta), with bright red flowers; Tataramoa {Rubrus Australis), the bramble. The Maire {Eugenia maire) can be used as box-wood. Pukerangiora (Melicope simplex), producing resin. The Tarairi {Laurus tarairi), a large tree, but of little use except for fuel. The Puka {Polygonum Australe), a willow plant. The Manawa, or Mangrove {Aricennia tomentoso). The Ngau {Myoporum laetum), Kopakopa {Plantago major), is a plantain containing medicinal properties. The Nymphaeacece is a beautiful white water lily, lately discovered. And besides other trees and plants, there are numerous families of grasses, sedges, and ferns. Of the Algae, or seaweeds, 48 species are known. Of the lichen tribe, more than 28 species have been described. Fungi are represented by several species. In mosses and liver-mosses, New Zealand is very rich; as many as 72 species have been found. But of all plants, the ferns and fern-like plants are the most numerous, and every day is adding new treasures to our knowledge of their variety. Some tree-ferns grow to the height of forty feet.

3. Minerals, etc.

New Zealand has ample mineral deposits--coal, iron, copper, chrome, mercury, lead, plumbago, granite, limestone, pepsine, alum, manganese, orpiment, sulphate of copper, sulphur, petroleum, and gold. All these, and more, are to be found; future explorers only will be able to calculate the amount of each; but enough is already known to show that the country is rich in its latent resources.

Hazell, Watson, and Viney, Printers, London and Aylesbury.

1   See "History of the Birds of New Zealand," by W. L. Buller, Sc.D., F.L.S., F.R.G.S., etc.

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