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Conchology Section
Auckland Museum Institute

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Newsletter - November 2001

The topic for the evening was the recent visit to New Caledonia. The people on the trip were Jack, Carol, Glenys, Kelvin, Betty, (organiser supreme), Glad, Nancy and Margaret. Betty gave an introduction. We enjoyed slides illustrating the week stay in Noumea where we visited the aquarium, a cultural museum, geological museum and botanical gardens. The various ethnic cuisines were part of the experience. The second week we toured the island in a van, stopping somewhere different each night. We travelled north on the west coast then down the east coast. Jack did not overly complain when he found beer was cheaper than coffee! At one lodging we insisted on a jug for making coffee. To our delight they provided us with a new one. The great rejoicing was sharply cut off the next morning when there was a power cut! The locals have a habit of setting fires to drive out game for hunting. The fires often burn down the power poles!!
The French earn large sums of money from nickel which is the main export. Pictures showed the strip mining on the serpentinite hill tops with resulting destruction of endemic plants and their unique biota eg lizards. The over burden is dumped into the adjacent valleys. The bright red silt run off pollutes streams and parts of the lagoon. The ore is barged to the nickel smelter in Noumea. Carol’s fantastic digital prints and various other mounted prints were on display together with trays of the shells collected. Most of these were from beach wash-ups.

During the trip Jack explained the geology from his vast experience over the years supervising post graduate students. We visited an owl’s cave which Jack had excavated. It proved very elusive, there was much crashing through undergrowth and peering down the roots of banyan trees before we found it, but it was well worth the effort. The layers showed the owls have been nesting in this cave for over 2000 years. There were bones of rats, bats, birds and frogs. The study showed that frogs had either arrived naturally or that Aborigines had travelled to New Caledonia or Kanaks had travelled to Australia and back. It had been thought previously that the French introduced them. Marine shells showed the cave had also been used by people. Lower layers about 2400 years old had evidence of Lapita pottery, the only known site in New Caledonia. The older layers before man had Placostylus. We appeared to be good at losing things such as restaurants, we even managed to lose a peninsula, eventually it was revealed to be a map-making error!
The reef in New Caledonia is 2 km from the shore. The most exciting snorkel with many species of beautiful corals and colourful fish was from a boat when we went to the lighthouse. Glad was introduced to the delight of snorkelling. Striped sea snakes were common just behind the beach.
Glenys spoke on the 23 species of Araucanian pines found in New Caledonia. These are present because that country was originally part of Gondwana and for a time connected to New Zealand before splitting away. She was particularly pleased to find Monotis, a fossil bivalve. The genus is found in New Zealand.
Glad got really getting keen on collecting land snails. Norm is helping her with identifications.
Margaret spoke of collecting forams for Bruce Hayward. Mud samples were collected from estuarine habits. Declaring mud gathered all the MAF staff on duty! After a great deal of fast talking the samples were allowed through customs without autoclaving. His colleague in Geneva has since done DNA studies showing three species of Ammonia, one species common in the Pacific and two species which appear to be undescribed.

Doug brought in a tray which included specimens of Polinices aurantius, Malea pomum, Cypraea tigris, Conus textile and Amalda montrouzieri.

Bruce Hazelwood had to spend 3 days in hospital recently to have a lung drained. He is improving now. We wish him a speedy recovery.

We had new members in the form of two swifts who supervised the meeting from inside the window!

Tony and Jenny Enderby planned to publish a Poirieria in October but so far have only received enough articles for half a one. They are now aiming at a journal early in 2002 but need your contributions NOW. Short items on day trips or observations as well as longer articles most welcome. Post to PO Box 139, Leigh or Email or Ph. (09) 422 6127.
Tony and Jenny Enderby have returned to Leigh after a diving trip to the Nelson area. They are gathering photographs and text for their book contract on diving around New Zealand in the Lonely Planet series.

Eleven members of the shell club went to the Geoclub field trip to Kiritehere, on the coast west of Waitomo. This was lead by Jack who studied Monotis there. The weather was great for our excursions north and south of Kiritehere. The rocks have many fossils if you can hit the rock hard enough and then have the energy to carry out the booty! On the journey back we visited sites at Kawhia where the lucky ones broke open concretions to reveal ammonites.

Check out your information sheet (see May 2001 newsletter) and plan your entries and attendance. The closing date for the return of entry forms is 15 December. Time to do it! If you have lost yours contact Deidre Standish at 04 938 6554 or or 27 Fitzpatrick St. Johnsonville, Wellington. A few spare copies will be available at the AGM.

Please could all library books be returned. FREE TO A GOOD HOME Poirieria 1975-81 Ph. Todd Landers (09) 306 7070 Ext. 657.

A boat trip travelling to Great Barrier on the cutter Waimarama is being planned by Richard Tyson for the low tides from 27 February to 3 March 2002. We will be staying at Orama, a Christian community in Port Abercrombie with the boat available for day trips. Approximate cost per person $474 includes boat hire, accommodation and food. Richard will come to the AGM to give details and answer questions. 12 is the maximum number so phone him to book a place Ph. Richard (09) 620 4523.

Tuesday 11 December 7:30pm. Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Entry by the Administration door between 7:15 and 7:30pm. No late admittance.

Your support at this meeting is vital. Please make every effort to come. We will be making future decisions for the club. Please bring a plate for the Christmas supper and a gift wrapped shell for exchange. Joan Coles has already made The Cake! As a special treat Jenny and Tony Enderby will be bringing a selection of their superb slides.

Nominations are essential for 2002. Positions vacant will be president, treasurer, secretary, newsletter writer and committee members. Contact any committee member for more information, to nominate or to volunteer. The future of the Conchology Section is in serious doubt. If officers are not available to guide our affairs we may have to go into recess.

Seasons greetings to everyone.

Margaret Morley: Ph (09) 576 8323
Email: Peter Poortman: Ph (09) 817 5697
Website: Conchology Section website


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