« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
land Settlement of Canterbury founded, and yet, in the few years which have since elapsed, the country has been opened up and largely brought under cultivation, handsome towns and cities built, roads and Railways made, Churches, Schools, and Hospitals erected, mines opened and worked, commerce established, and there is now an energetic, wealthy, and thriving community of half a million souls, with an import and export trade of upwards of thirteen and a half million pounds per annum, where, as it were but yesterday, there existed only a savage wilderness over which roamed a handful of still more savage cannibals. *
Situation and Extent.-New Zealand lies far out in the South Pacific Ocean, 1200 miles from the nearest point of Australia, and about 12,000 from England. There are two principal Islands, the North and the South, separated by Cook's Strait. The total area is about 99,000 square miles.
Physical Features. The country may be termed mountainous, the West and North of the South Island being occupied by ranges of rugged and lofty peaks, towering to heights of
* The population of New Zealand at each decade was :-
26,707, exclusive of Aborigines,
489,702. Maories, 44,099. Total, 533,801. The population of the chief cities and towns in 1881 was-Auckland, 16,665, with suburbs 39,966 ; Wellington, 20,535; Dunedin 24,377, with suburbs 42,802 ; Christchurch 15,214, with suburbs 30,719.
The value of the trade of the colony is as follows :
Total Imports. Total Exports. British Produce United Kingdom
Imports of Exports to
The Public Debt on 31st March, 1881, was £29,165,511, or £53 108 per head of population, including Maories ; most of this, however, has been expended on reproductive works, such as Roads, Railways, Bridges, Harbours, &c.
10,000 and 13,000 feet, their summits dazzling in perpetual snow, while down their scarred and furrowed sides descend huge glaciers, some of which on the West Coast reach the low elevation of 700 feet above sea level. The mountains in the North Island are chiefly in the Southern and Eastern parts and are neither so lofty nor so grand as the Southern Alps few attaining a height of 6,000 feet, and only the isolated extinct volcanic cones of Ruapehu and Mount Egmont rising above the snow line. It is stated one tenth of the surface of the North, and four-fifths of that of the South Island are covered by mountains, those in the South Island being on their Eastern Slopes mostly open, well grassed, and adapted for pastoral purposes, while their Western Slopes are usually heavily timbered. At the Eastern foot of the mountains of the South Island, and on the West of those of the North Island, are extensive plains, some of which are of great fertility. The Rivers are numerous, with much of the character of mountain streams, being rapid and only in few in. stances are they navigable ; but considerable improvements have already been made by the clearing away of boulders, snags, and other impediments, and the erection of training walls, and no doubt as years roll on, the indomitable energy and perseverance of the Colonists, will convert many, at present almost unused brawling streams, into busy though silent, highways of commerce.
Geology.—The limited time at our disposal will not permit more than a rapid and cursory glance at the very interesting Geological Structure of New Zealand ; and the author can only give such a slight outline of these features as will enable him to be more easily understood when treating of the more im. mediate subject of this paper.*
The fundamental rocks are the crystalline schists, foliated and contorted gneiss, occurring in the South-West of Otago.
* For most of the facts and information in the succeeding pages the Author is indebted to the official publications of the New Zealand Governmont, and more especially to those of the Director of the Geological Survey Department--the learned and indefatigable Dr. James Hector, F.R.S., and his able staff of assistants.
They constitute huge mountains, intersected by deep ravines, the sides precipitous, often almost perpendicular. On the West these ravines are occupied by arms of the sea corresponding to the Fiords of Norway, and, like them, they are often of great depth and deeper at the head than at the entrance. Similarly the ravines on the East hold fresh water lakes of great depth, the bottoms being usually much below sea level. True granites-grey, white, and flesh color, --syenites and diorites are associated with these rocks. These are succeeded by an immense series of metamorphosed foliated schists, which cover the larger part (probably more than 8,000 square miles) of Otago, and extend along the west coast of the South Island through Westland and Nelson to the neighbourhood of Collingwood. They have not yet been found in the North Island. The lower members of the series are contorted schists, foliated with quartz, and overlying these, in a few localities where they have escaped denudation, are soft, blue, micaceous slates, containing quartz veins in a friable and decomposing condition. Upon these formations are situated all the important alluvial gold fields of the South Island, and it is generally conceded that the gold has been derived from the numerous strings and veins of quartz by which they are traversed. The age of these altered beds has not yet been satisfactorily determined ; they are probably Silurian, but some may be older, and, on the other hand, others may be much younger, possibly Carboniferous.
The lowest unaltered rocks yet described are of Silurian age and occur in the North-West of Nelson, consisting of schists and crystalline limestones; while the Devonian is represented by the quartzites and limestone beds of Reefton. Flanking the belt of foliated schists which runs through the South Island is a great mass of slates and limestones, greenstone breccias and sandstones, extending from the Northern part of Otago, through Canterbury, Marlborough, and Nelson ; and
; again from Wellington almost continuously to the East Cape; while detached masses occur at the Coromandel Penin. sula, along the coast north of Wangarei, at the North Cape,
and several other localities. Pitched at high angles, these rocks constitute the chief mountain ranges of both islands, rising to great elevations, in Mount Cook even to 13,200 feet, their tops bold, rugged, and serrated. These beds are probably of Lower Carboniferous age and are of great interest from their frequently holding important mineral deposits.
Passing over the Permian (?) Trias and Lias, all of which are represented, we pause to remark that the Jurassic beds in many places contain small and irregular coal seams, but as yet have yielded none of commercial value.
The Neocomian is probably represented by the sandstones, conglomerates and grits with which are associated the valuable bituminous coal seams of the West Coast.
The formation to which Dr. Hector has applied the name Cretaceo-Tertiary,” from its fossils presenting, to some extent, both Tertiary and Mesozoic features, is widely distributed. In its upper part it consists of marls, sandstones, greensands, limestone, chalk marls and chalk with flints, and is of marine origin. At its base lies the black grit, and, in certain localities, the coal formation in which the principal workable hydrous brown coal seams are found. The fossil plants associated with the coal deposits are ferns and "remains of dicotyledonous and coniferous trees of closely allied species to those represented in the existing flora of the country.” (Dr. Hector.)
Tertiary beds of Eocene, Miocene, and Pliocene age cover a considerable area in both islands, those of the latter age, containing, in numerous localities, beds of lignite of local importance, and rich deposits of alluvial gold.
It thus appears that nearly the complete Geological sequence of formations known in Europe has already been identified in New Zealand, the gaps remaining to be filled being chiefly in those Archaic rocks found in the mountainous, almost unknown, and scarcely accessible regions of the Southwest; these are, at present, but roughly grouped, chiefly from their mineralogical characteristics.
It is noticeable that the general strike of the rocks of the older formations has a N.E. and S.W. direction, which, as Dana points out, corresponds with the line of elevation in the Pacific Ocean, the same general effect being observed on the East coast of Australia. This line of elevation also corresponds with the general lines of Plutonic and Volcanic outbursts, which extend along the Eastern foot of the mountain ranges of the South Island and the Western foot of those of the North. It is crossed, nearly at right angles, by a line of depression, originating the transverse ruptures to which are due Foveaux and Cook's Straits and the North-east coast line of the North Island. The important part played by volcanic agencies in the formation of the country is seen in the tufaceous breccias and lava flows, which cover so large a part of the surface; fully one-third of the area of the North Island being occupied by these deposits. And that these forces are even now not quite extinct is evidenced by the smouldering cones of Ngarahoe and White Island and the hot springs of the Geyser district; while old Vulcan, by an occasional gentle earthquake, reminds the inhabitants of his near presence.
Mineral Resources. The mineral resources are rich and varied, and though as yet but imperfectly explored, as we may easily suppose when we remember that the country is as large as Great Britain, and the population less than that of Liverpool; still enough has already been discovered to indicate the future development of immense wealth. In the following notes no attempt will be made to treat systematically of the mineralogy of the country, but those minerals only will be noticed which are of commercial importance
COAL. No true palæozoic coal has yet been found in New Zealand, all the seams known are of late Mesozoic or Tertiary age and of the kind usually termed by geologists Brown Coal; yet the varieties of quality range from Lignite, but little removed from Peat, to Coal which in appearance and composition cannot be distinguished from true Anthracite, these variations chiefly resulting from purely local causes, such as the contact or proximity of volcanic dykes or flows, which