Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Haast, John Francis Julius von

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HAAST, Sir JOHN FRANCIS JULIUS von (1824–1887), geologist and explorer, was born at Bonn in Germany on 1 May 1824. After studying at the university of his native town, where he received some training in natural science, he travelled extensively over Europe, in order mainly to increase his knowledge of geology and art. In 1858 he sailed to New Zealand, and there, acting as assistant to Professor Hochstetter, the geologist, he was appointed in 1859 by the provincial government to explore the south-western part of Nelson, and report upon the geology and natural history. He performed the work successfully in nine months,notwithstanding considerable danger, and discovered coal and gold fields. In 1861 he was appointed surveyor-general for the province of Canterbury, and soon afterwards started an exploration of the interior, which occupied ten years. He thus discovered the 'Southern Alps of New Zealand,' and drew up some valuable maps to illustrate the geology and topography of the country explored,which gained for him the honour of the Royal Geographical Society's gold medal. His principal book, the 'Geology of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland,' was published in 1879 at Auckland. In 1866 he founded the Canterbury Museum, and, as a director, took an active interest in its conduct and success till his death. He also had a share in the success of the university of New Zealand, in which he was professor of geology and member of the senate. As a man of science Haast has frequently been quoted as a special authority on glaciation. In 1867 he was elected fellow of the Royal Society, and, having been appointed one of the commissioners to the Indian and Colonial Exhibition of 1885, he was knighted by the queen in acknowledgment of his public services. Haast died of heart disease at Wellington, New Zealand, on 15 Aug. 1887.

[Athenæum, 27 Aug. 1887; Annual Register, 1887; Men of the Time.]

R. E. A.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.143
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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413 i 10 Haast, Sir John F. G. von: for governor-general read surveyor-general