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Auckland Museum Institute

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Newsletter - April 2003

President's report:
A big welcome to our new member Mr Luen Jones.

Doug Snook reports that he and Judith had an interesting time touring the South Island over 42 days. They sighted 106 shell species in total over 30 different locations. A highlight of the tour was a visit to Doug's colonial family roots at Dovedale South of Nelson. While in Hokitika Doug came across the trail of former member Jean van Weert (now in Holland) who has left his mark on the local shell enthusiasts. The committee has finalised the dates and details of our annual shell auction. Please make a diary note NOW:

Annual Shell Auction - Sunday 28th September 03 - Albany Hall

Next Meeting: Tuesday 13th May 7:30 pm at the Auckland Museum.
Entrance by the rear Admin door between 7:15-7:30pm. We regret there can be no late admittance due to security regulations.

Speaker: Margaret Morley will demonstrate techniques for drawing shells. We have all seen Margaret's lovely illustrations and this promises to be a very useful lecture.
There will also be a short video of the Cuvier Is. field trip.

Shells for display: Ranellidae. Win a prize for the most spectacular shell (so dust off your most precious Charonia tritonis and bring it along.)

Winter Field Trips:
Thanks to everyone who has suggested a location for a field trip. We will endeavour to visit all of them over the next 18 months. There are excellent low tides close to midday (AK) on weekends throughout the winter. Fiona Thompson's suggestion for a field trip to Orewa beach is an excellent choice for May: Sunday 17th May Orewa 2pm phone Rosa on 620 4523 for details.

Bruce Hazelwood's field trip to Cuvier Is. April 5th-6th:
This was a most rewarding experience. A comprehensive account of the trip will be published in a future Poirieria. Cuvier is the epitome of a rugged uplifted Northern NZ off-shore Island, with windswept headlands and challenging undulating boulder beaches nestled in coves below towering craggy cliffs.

Our party of 12 boarded the charter launch Silver Wing, a fast twin hulled vessel of 11.8 metres, and departed from Whitianga about 8:30 am on the Saturday morning, in fine weather. (I pass over the complexities encountered on Friday night while shoving all of our gear into the compulsory one metre tall, water proof and rodent proof barrels with vivid red screw-on lids, provided by DoC.)

The Silver Wing, buoyed on a one metre ocean swell, sped out of historic Mercury Bay through the rock strewn Hole in the Wall passage providing excellent views of Cook's Beach, Ohinau Is and the famous rock formations pierced with holes located off Opito Point. The Silver Wing then flashed past the Wildlife Sanctuary of the magnificent Mercury Islands, charging along at up to 30 knots through the channel which runs between Korapuki Is (suggested by DoC Thames as an island we should visit in the future) and Awaroa Pt. on Gt Mercury Is, passing Green Is, Stanley Is, Double Is, and Red Mercury Is. (famous for tuatara and its association with the German W.W.I P.O.W escapee, Count Von Luckener who anchored there while attempting to make his get-away to the Pacific in a scow named the Moa! Alas for the gallant Count, the tops of the Moa's masts were sighted above the headland of the bay now affectionately known as Von Luckner's Cove). Once clear of The Mercury Is. Cuvier is sighted lying on the Northern horizon about 20 kilometres away, like a large green whale. At night the Island is famous for its magnificent 'Victorian' iron light house which flashes every 16 seconds. This is situated on the 'tail of the whale', the SE headland which is separated from the bulk of the island by a low land-bridge.

When we arrived at Cuvier the Silver Wing treated us to a circumnavigation of the Island and approached quite close to the shoreline despite the persistent ocean swell. We were ferried ashore with our barrels at Landing Bay and worked our way up the steep steps and path (unfortunately neglected) to one of the three original lighthouse keepers homes. After a bit of a treasure hunt the key was found and the water turned on - there was no electricity, the lighthouse now powered by its own generator and solar panels (now mainly accessed by helicopter).

The old house was an adventure on its own but we settled in at once. The day was spent exploring the Island. We collected all the leaf litter samples that Bruce required and more. The dinner catering was a little challenging as all the sharp knives had been left on the boat, so we had to cut up salads and the catch of fresh fish etc. enough for 12 folk - with pen knives! And the 'perfect' gas stove with its big gas bottle which we had dragged up the path, gave only a pathetic glow (thanks to Chris Horne for providing a little camping stove - this saved the dinner) and we only had brought one gas light. It was dark by 6:30pm and when the 'great eye in the sky' turned on, unfortunately it did not illuminate the house. So after a successful evening moth hunt, every one turned in by 9 pm.

By midnight a storm broke over the Island. The old enemy, the NE gale, accompanied by driving rain howled across the land bridge with such vengeance that it sounded like the onslaught of a Nuclear Winter. In the morning we were sitting down to breakfast when we received a message from the Charter Boat Skipper that high winds were expected and we had 30 minutes to evacuate the Island.! More on this later. However, we packed up and had the accursed barrels down at the landing as ordered. The boat set off through 'liquid Himalayas' to the shelter of Mercury Cove, Gt. Mercury Is. Then on to heavenly Peach Grove, as beautiful as always, despite the driving rain, and back to Whitianga by 2 pm.

Seashells sighted by R.A.Tyson above the low tide mark on two boulder beaches of Cuvier Island. Landing Bay:
1. Charonia capax
2. Cellana ornata? (a very bleached specimen)
3. Haliotis iris? (specimens were broken)
4. Neothais scalarus
5. Cookia sulcata

Fairchild Bay:
1. Charonia capax
2. Nerita melanotragus

For Sale:
Patricia Langford is about to move to a smaller house and so has a large variety of shells for sale. Phone 09 473 0147.

Library News:
Librarian Gladys Goulstone - address 38A Church Rd. Mangere Bridge, Ak ph. (09) 634-2823, will be in attendance at the Library in the Matapuna Gallery on the Mon. afternoon 2-3 pm before each meeting date. Please contact her re. books on the list mailed Sept 2001 - Gladys has extra copies of this. She will deliver book orders to the meeting, or if you send her an A4 P.0. handy bag with $2.95 in stamps, for each book, she wiil mail books to you. Please return books to Matapuna as soon as possible or to Gladys at the next meeting, or mail them to her address above.

Tony and Jenny Enderby, P.O Box 139 Leigh, require articles for the next Poirieria issue. All queries: ph. 09-422-6127 or email
Back copies are held in the Museum Library. Rosa will copy articles for you. Please send her $3 to cover photo costs and postage.

Cut here......................................................................................................

Subscriptions are now due for 2003. The annual subscription is $20-00.
Please make cheques to: Conchology Section c/o R.A.Tyson, 16 Kain St, Mt Eden, Auckland 4, New Zealand.

I/we enclose $20.00 for my/our annual subscription:

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Previous Newsletters

      January 2003
February 2000 February 2001   February 2003
March 2000 March 2001 March 2002 March 2003
April 2000 April 2001 April 2002  
May 2000 May 2001 May 2002  
June 2000 June 2001 June 2002  
July 2000 July 2001 July 2002  
August 2000 August 2001 August 2002  
September 2000 September 2001 September 2002  
October 2000 October 2001 October 2002  
November 2000 November 2001 November 2002  
December 2000 December 2001 December 2002