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New Zealand Plants and their Story

Sir Joseph Hooker and the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

Sir Joseph Hooker and the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand.

Sir Joseph Hooker was botanist to the famous Antarctic Expedition which left England in 1839 under the command of Sir James Ross. So far as the Dominion is concerned, Hooker visited the Auckland and Campbell Islands, and also the Bay of Islands, where he and Colenso met. He published his splendid results in several magnificent volumes, as a part of the botany of the antarctic voyage, with life-like coloured plates, under the titles "Florae Novae-Zelandiae," and "Flora Ant arctica." But Hooker's work on the New Zealand flora does not end here. By an arrangement with the New Zealand Government he wrote the classical "Handbook to the New Zealand Flora," which deals not only with the flowering-plants, but with the ferns, mosses, liverworts, fungi, and seaweeds. When it is borne in mind that Hooker was compelled to work almost exclusively from dried and frequently scanty material, his results are little short of marvellous. It is true that in some cases recent research has thrown new light on his conclusions, but that does not in the least detract from the admirable accuracy of his work, which will ever remain an object-lesson for New Zealand botanists, and an edifice not to be rebuilt, but merely to be added to.

Hooker's work as a field naturalist, too, in the subantarctic islands was most thorough. Only one who has been to that region of wind and rain, and has attempted to make a botanical collection, can appreciate the completeness of his collections, and marvel at the immense amount of work accomplished in so brief a time.