1907 Sub-Antarctic Islands Scientific Expedition

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Members of the Auckland Islands party

The 1907 Sub-Antarctic Islands Scientific Expedition was a New Zealand scientific expedition organised by the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury (now known as the Canterbury branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand).[1] The main aim of the expedition was to extend the magnetic survey of New Zealand by investigating the Auckland and Campbell Islands but botanical, biological and zoological surveys were also conducted.

Expedition preparation[edit]

The planning committee of the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury approached the various branches of the New Zealand Institute for support and armed with this, approached the New Zealand Minister of Marine, John A. Millar, for possible transport. On being informed that neither of the New Zealand Government steam ships would be available, the committee sent a delegation to the Acting Premier, the Honourable William Hall-Jones. By 8 June 1907, it was confirmed that the NZGSS Hinemoa under the captaincy of John Bollons would be available to transport the expedition.[1]

Expedition members[edit]

A group of 26 participants went on the expedition.[1][2] The group was split into two main parties—one for Campbell Island and one for the Auckland Islands—with the intention that the groups were to be dropped off to survey while the NZGSS Hinemoa conducted its regular round of checking the castaway depots at other subantarctic islands before returning to pick the groups up.

Magnetic survey[edit]

  • Dr Clinton Coleridge Farr, Lecturer in Physics and Surveying, Canterbury College, Christchurch: Auckland Islands
  • Henry Denman Cook, Lecturer in Mathematics, Canterbury College: Auckland Islands
  • Henry Fawsit Skey, Magnetic Observatory, Christchurch: Campbell Island
  • Edward Kidson, Canterbury College: Campbell Island
  • C. A'Court Opie, Assistant to Surveyors: Originally assigned to the Auckland Island group but reassigned to Campbell Island

Botany survey[edit]

  • Dr Leonard Cockayne, Christchurch: Auckland Islands
  • Bernard Cracroft Aston, Chief Chemist, Department of Agriculture, Wellington: Auckland Islands
  • John Smaillie Tennant, Inspector of Schools, Wellington: Auckland Islands
  • Captain Arthur Algernon Dorrien-Smith, Tresco Abbey, Scilly Isles: Auckland Island
  • Robert M. Laing, Science Master, Boys' High School, Christchurch: Campbell Island
  • Joseph Crosby-Smith, Invercargill: Campbell Island

Geology survey[edit]

  • Robert Speight, Lecturer in Geology, Canterbury College and President of the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury: Auckland Islands
  • Alexander Moncrief Finlayson, Entrance and Senior Scholar at University of Otago: Auckland Islands
  • G. S. Collyns, Assistant to Geologists: Auckland Islands
  • Dr Patrick Marshall, Lecturer-in-Charge, Department of Geology, University of Otago: Campbell Island
  • Robert Browne, Fielding: Campbell Island

Zoology survey[edit]

  • Dr William Blaxland Benham, Professor of Biology, University of Otago and Curator Otago Museum: Auckland Islands
  • George Vernon Hudson, Wellington: Auckland Islands
  • Edgar Ravenswood Waite, Curator at Canterbury Museum: Auckland Islands
  • Dr Charles Chilton, Professor of Biology, Canterbury College: Campbell Island
  • George Marriner, Assistant, Department of Biology, Canterbury College: Campbell Island
  • James Boxer Mayne, Headmaster at Sydenham School, Christchurch: Campbell Island
  • Professor Harry Borrer Kirk, Professor of Biology, Victoria College, Wellington: Campbell Island

Other participants[edit]

  • Samuel Page, photographer
  • W. Bernard North, Cook: Auckland Islands
  • Charles Eyre, Cook: Campbell Island (one of the Dundonald castaways)
  • F. R. Feild: assisted the Auckland Islands party as a private individual
  • Chambers: assisted the Campbell Island party as a private individual
  • Des Barres: assisted the Campbell Island party as a private individual
  • Whaitiri of Ruapuke Island: leader of the whaleboat crew with the Auckland Islands party

Other proposed participants[edit]

There were a number of others that were invited to attend but either tendered their regrets or were unable to go.[1] These included:

  • The Honourable Robert McNab, Minister of Lands and Commissioner of State Forests, Wellington. He was invited to lead the expedition, but was unable to leave his duties.
  • Thomas Frederic Cheeseman, Curator Auckland Museum. There is a suggestion that the exhibition had offered a place in the Campbell Island group and that Mr Cheeseman wished to extend his invitation to both Islands.[1] In any case, while Cheeseman did not attend the expedition, he was asked to describe the collections of botanical specimens the expedition returned with.
  • H.T. Hill, Secretary and Inspector of Schools, Hawkes Bay
  • Frederick Giles Gibbs, Principal of Nelson College, Nelson
  • Alfred Hyde Cockayne, Assistant Biologist, Department of Agriculture, Wellington
  • W. T. Adams, Greendale, Canterbury
  • Dr J.M. Bell, Director, Geological Survey, Wellington
  • Professor A. Jarman, Professor of Mining Engineering, Auckland University College
  • Professor Algernon Phillips Withiel Thomas, Professor of Biology and Geology, Auckland University College
  • Augustus Hamilton, Director, Colonial Museum, Wellington
  • Henry Suter, Wellington
  • J. Drummond, journalist, Lyttelton Times, specialising in natural history
  • G. M. Thomson, Dunedin
  • Dr F. W. Hilgendorf, biologist, Canterbury Agricultural College
  • Dr R. Fulton, Dunedin

The expedition[edit]

Castaways K Knudsen, Michael Puhl, Robert Ellis an John Gratton on board the Hinemoa alongside a wooden frame of what had been a canvas boat (coracle)

The NZGSS Hinemoa departed from Bluff on 14 November 1907 and the Expedition arrived at Port Pegasus, Stewart Island in the early afternoon. Some disembarked for an episode of botanical collecting. The voyage continued at 9pm that evening with an overnight steam to The Snares, which were reached at 6am. All of 15 November was spent at The Snares exploring the islands and collecting soil, rock and botanical specimens. By 16 November the expedition arrived at Auckland Islands and discovered the castaways of the wreck of the Dundonald.[3] After ensuring that the castaways were supplied with provisions and taking on board one of the castaways to act as a cook for the Campbell Island expedition group, the Auckland Islands expedition party was dropped off at Camp Cove.

Campbell Island was reached on 18 November and the remainder of the expedition was dropped off. The NZGSS Hinemoa returned and picked up the Campbell Island group on 25 November. While the NZGSS Hinemoa was away, the Auckland Islands group, who had also been supplied with a whaleboat and crew, were rowed to various locations around Auckland Islands during their ten-day stay. With the return of the NZGSS Hinemoa on the 26 November the Auckland Islands group packed up and boarded the vessel. The ship steamed to Enderby Island on the 27 November for further exploration and specimen hunting and then onto Disappointment Island on 28 November. A number of expedition members collected specimens and samples while Captain Bollons organised the exhumation of the Chief Mate of the Dundonald, Jabez Peters, for reburial at Hardwicke cemetery. The funeral was held that evening. The NZGSS Hinemoa arrived back in Bluff on 30 November 1907.[1]


The findings from the trip were documented in the following ways:

  • Chilton, C. (ed.), 1909: The Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand. 2 vols. Government Printer, Wellington. 848 pp[4]
  • In numerous press articles, some of which featured images from the voyage and were contributed by expedition participants, for example The Star (Christchurch),[5][6] Evening Post (Wellington)[7] and the New Zealand Times.[8]
  • Images of the Expedition and the Dundonald survivors were published in the Otago Witness (Dunedin) on 18 December 1907.[9]
  • Expedition members gave lectures accompanied by a lantern slide presentations of images.[10][11]
  • The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa has in its collection an album of photographic prints of the voyage that was presented to Mr W. Bernard North, and also a number of lantern slides relating to the voyage.[12]
  • The Alexander Turnbull Library has in its collection an album of photographic prints of the voyage presented to Captain Bollons.[13]
  • The original photographic negatives from the expedition may be held by the Canterbury Museum Library.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Godley, E.J. (May 1979). "The 1907 Expedition to the Auckland and Campbell Islands, and an unpublished report by B.C. Aston". Tuatara. Retrieved 20 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "Address to Captain J Bollons". Album of photographs of scientific expedition to the Sub-Antarctic Islands. November 1907. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  3. ^ "A Tale of Shipwreck, Fortitude and Endurance". 2001. Archived from the original on 2 September 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  4. ^ Chilton, C., ed. (1909). The subantarctic islands of New Zealand: Reports on the geo-physics, geology, zoology, and botany of the islands lying to the south of New Zealand, based mainly on observations and collections made during an expedition in the government steamer "Hinemoa" (Captain J. Bollons) in November, 1907. Wellington: Philosophical Institute of Canterbury. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.11810. OCLC 2485342 – via Biodiversity Heritage Library. 
  5. ^ Cockayne, L. (6 November 1907). "Science at the Islands. Work that has been done". The Star, Issue 9078, Page 4. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  6. ^ "The Sub-Antarctic. Return of the Scientific Expedition". The Star, Issue 9099, Page 1. 2 December 1907. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  7. ^ "Sub-Antarctic Exploration". Evening Post, Volume LXXIV, Issue 139, Page 6. 9 December 1907. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "In southern seas. The Auckland Islands". New Zealand Times. 11 December 1907. 
  9. ^ "Wreck of the Barque Dundonald on Disappointment Island". Otago Witness, Issue 2805, Pages 46-49. 18 December 1907. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "Popular Lantern Lecture". Wanganui Herald, Volume XXXXIV, Issue 12911, Page 7. 29 October 1909. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  11. ^ "Sub-Antarctic Continent. A theory discussed". The Colonist, Volume LI, Issue 12641, Page 4. 11 September 1909. Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "1907 Sub Antarctic Islands Scientific Expedition". Collections Online at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  13. ^ "Album of photographs of scientific expedition to the Sub-Antarctic Islands". November 1907. Retrieved 25 June 2010.