Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Haast and Hector

New Zealand was fortunate in numbering among its early surveyors and geologists men such as Julius von Haast and James Hector, the latter also having qualified in medicine. In 1858 an Austrian frigate visited Auckland, and on board was an eminent geologist, Hochstetter. The Auckland Provincial Government asked him to stay for six months to report on the geology, natural history, geography, and, in particular, the coalfields of the district. Just at that time Julius von Haast arrived and joined the party of exploration. They made an extensive study of the Taupo district, then spent two months in Nelson. After Hochstetter returned to Austria, Haast spent another nine months in Nelson, Canterbury, and Westland, finding coal and gold, as well as many new plants. Haast then became Provincial Geologist and, later, Director of the Canterbury Museum, a position which enabled him to spend much time exploring the plants of the Southern Alps. James Hector showed a similar enthusiasm for plants, and, along with the gifted draughtsman, John Buchanan, explored Central and Western Otago, then Mount Egmont and, later, the Kai-kouras. Buchanan also made an intensive study of plants, especially grasses, and his Indigenous Grasses of New Zealand was enhanced by its beautiful illustrations. Later, he wrote a Sketch of the Botany of Otago (1865).