Friday, 31 August 2007

Coronet Peak named by James McKerrow

Coronet Peak is in the North Otago province of New Zealand's South Island, amid some of the world's most stunning mountain scenery.Atop the 5400ft mountain sits an outcrop of rock, in the shape of a crown, hence the name given to it by explorer/surveyor James McKerrow when visiting this virgin area many decades ago.Another, more modern pioneer was Sir William Hamilton who, with typical New Zealand 'Kiwi' ingenuity, put Coronet Peak on the map by manufacturing the first rope tow at what was the country's first commercial ski field in 1947. He followed this with the country's first double chairlift in 1962 and the first triple lift in 1973.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

New Zealand Place Names - James McKerrow

James McKerrow was a prolific namer of features he surveyed. Here is a extract from a History Honours thesis to University of New Zealand, 1948, by David G. Herrow entitled James McKerrow - Surveyor, Explorer and Civil Servant. With main reference to exploration, 1861-63.

Since much of the country over which he passed was virgin, McKerrow took on himself the task of naming prominent features of the landscape. The policy employed in this work he described thus:
“ In naming of objects, those already in use in the district were always adopted, they are generally defined to a few creeks or perhaps a hill or two in the vicinity of the respective stations. The other names I either endeavoured to make descriptive or suggestive: this, in the case of the more prominent peaks, appears to me to be of much consequence to the traveller, for they become so many finger posts pointing the way. The great landmarks, Leaning Rock, Double Cone, and Black Peak, I found of much service in determining my whereabouts at the beginning of the survey; their names are legible in characters not to be mistaken”(1).

“ A great number of descriptive names were given thus: Cathedral Peaks, The Monument, the Beehive, the Crown, the Coronet, Tooth Peaks, Twin Peaks, the Minarets, Mt. Sentinel, Titan Rocks, Spire Peak, and so on and so on……
The mountain ranges were named after distinguished men in science, literature, travel and position, such as Kepler, Humbolt, Murchison,. Livingstone,, Forbes ( Professor of Natural Philosophy 60 years ago at Edinburgh, an authority on glaciers), Hunter (John, Anatomist) Sturt (Australian Explorer), Albert ( late Prince Consort)) Eglinton (Lord Lieutentant of Ireland and Lord Rector Glasgow University), Richardson (Sir John),Thomson, Hector, Garvie, Buchanan (local and well known), Goldie Hill and Bryce Burn were after my two men who were true and faithful throughout.” (2)

“ An island in Lake Manawa-pori is Poman, named in 1862 by James McKerrow, after the principal Island or “mainland” of Orkney Islands in Scotland.,” with a view to help the rhythm of the future poets, who will describe in flowing numbers the charms of beautiful Manapouri, as McKerrow prophesises…….
The Freeman was named by Mr. McKerrow in honour of Mr. Freeman Jackson, a very early runholder (3)….When Mr. James McKerrow was engaged with reconnoitring surveys during the years 1861-63, he named a number of places.” A few of these he named in the Wakatipu and Te Anau districts as follows: He gave the name Caples to one of the branches of the Greenstone, rivers….McKerrow named the Lingstone Mountains after Mr. D. Livingstine, the celebrated African explorer. David Peak(6802 ft/)in memory of Dr. Livingston’s christian name, Moffat Peak (5848 ft) , an African missionary and father-in-law of Livingstone. Eglinton River and Mountain after the Earl of Eglinton and Winton at that time Lord Lieutenanr of Ireland. Skelmorlie Peak (5933 ft.) and Larg Peak (5555 ft.)are both Ayrshire names. Mount Christina (8675 ft.) after a girl who was companion to Mrs. McKerrow in his absence. Clinto River, Te Anau, after one of the family names of the Duke of Newcastle, who was Colonial Secretary in 1863. Worsely Creek, North Fiord, Te Anau, named after the sheep farmer who drayed the boar for the surveyors from Manapouri Lake to Re Anau. Nurse Creek, after another sheep farmer, Lakes McKellar and Gunn after David McKellar and George Gunn….. Lake Fergus was named after Hon. T. Fergus in 1863. Bob’s cove was named after Bob Fortune, Mr. Rees’s boatman” (4)

“ In the Doon, Dean Hill, Bean Forrest, Afton and other Scottish names Mr. McKerrow honoured the land of his birth,(5) Mt. Pisgah was taken from the bible. It was the vantage point from which the promised land was seen.(6).

In his book, Otago Placenames (7), Mr. H. Beattie gives an exhaustive list of Mcerrow’s placenames. “ Besides J.T. Thomson, the most popular name giver in our history was probably James McKerrow”, he states. Mr. Beattie goes on to list more than 220 place names which are associated with McKerrow’s labours.
(1) Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. V, July 23,1862. P 16.
(2) Letter to Hocken.
(3) Roberts, W.H.S. Place Names and Early of Otago and Southland, P.32.
" " Maori nomenclature, Early History of Otago. P.47
(4) Roberts. P.48. Roberts does not make it absolutely clear whether or not McKerrow gives the last two names.
(5) Kilmarnock Standard, 22nd August, 1903/
(6) McKerrow’s Reminiscences.
(7) Beattie, H. Otago Place Names, Pp. 78-86.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Report from Astronomical Society

Jeremiah Horrocks makes the first observation of the Transit of Venus in 1639

In 1882 James McKerrow observed the trasit of Venus, and in 1885 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Astromnomical Society.

Here is the report on the eclipse.

Since this was New Zealand's only total solar eclipse a glance at reports from other parts of the country may be of interest.
No one would have blamed Wellington observers for going elsewhere to observe the eclipse but as it turned out they would have done better to have stayed at home. At Wellington the dark shadow of totality was seen rushing toward the city and then came the "beautiful flood of white light which surrounded the moon". Coronal rays extending for from two to three solar diameters were seen, as well as a large red prominence "conspicuous on the right". The weather was described as "most favourable in a southerly gale".
Wellington observers who moved closer to the central line of eclipse, however, did not see as much. Dr Hector (after whom the Dominion Observatory was formerly named), together with Archdeacon Stock (who had predicted the end of the world from the comet of 1883) and Messrs Adams (later Dr Adams, the Dominion's first professional astronomer), McKerrow, Humphries, Travers and Beverley went to Masterton, selecting sites on Rangitumau and Otahiaho hills. They saw the eclipse through a watery sky which dimmed its beauty. Bailey's Beads were seen, as well as coronal rays extending only half a solar diameter from the sun's limb. Mr Humphries got good photographs of the beads, corona and prominences.