Julius von Haast

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Julius von Haast.

Sir Johann Franz "Julius" von Haast (1 May 1822 – 16 August 1887) was a German geologist. He founded Canterbury Museum at Christchurch, New Zealand.


Haast was born at Bonn in 1822[1][2] in the Kingdom of Prussia. He received his early education partly in that town and partly in Cologne, and then entered the university of Bonn, where he studied geology and mineralogy. In 1858 he travelled to New Zealand to report on the suitability of the colony for German emigrants. He then became acquainted with Ferdinand von Hochstetter, and assisted him in the preliminary geological survey which von Hochstetter had undertaken.

von Haast's grave at Holy Trinity Avonside

Afterwards Dr Haast accepted offers from the governments of Nelson and Canterbury Provinces to investigate the geology of those districts, and the results of his detailed labours greatly enriched our knowledge with regard to the rocky structure, the glacial phenomena and the economic products. He discovered gold and coal in Nelson, and he carried on important researches with reference to the occurrence of Moa and other extinct flightless birds.

His Geology of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, N.Z., was published in 1879. He was the founder of the Canterbury Museum at Christchurch, of which he became director, and for which he endeavoured to render the finest collection in the southern hemisphere. He was Provincial Geologist of Canterbury from 1861 to 1871, and professor of geology at Canterbury College (now University of Canterbury). He was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1867, and was given a hereditary knighthood by the Emperor of Austria in 1875. He was knighted for his services at the time of the Colonial Exhibition in London in 1886, and died shortly after his return to Christchurch, in 1887. He is buried in the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stanmore Road, Christchurch.

Haast named the Franz Josef Glacier after the Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Several places in New Zealand are named for him, including Haast Pass, the Haast River and the town of Haast. The schist found in New Zealand is called the "Haast Schist" as a tribute to his contributions to geology. He was the first person to study the bones of the extinct Haast's eagle.[3]

He married Mary Dobson, daughter of the Canterbury Provincial Engineer Edward Dobson, in 1863. They had four sons and a daughter.


Cited sources
  1. ^ Haast, H.F. von (1948). The Life and Times of Sir Julius von Haast: Explorer, Geologist, Museum Builder. Wellington: The Author, p.1.
  2. ^ Note some sources incorrectly state the year as 1824, including"Sir Julius von Haast, F.R.S". Nature (Nature) 37 (943): 87. 1887-11-24. doi:10.1038/037087a0. [dead link]
  3. ^ Haast, Julius (1872). "Notes on Harpagornis Moorei, an Extinct Gigantic Bird of Prey, containing Discussion of Femur, Ungual Phalanges and Rib". Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 4. New Zealand Institute. pp. 193–196. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
Other sources

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Haast, Sir Johann Franz Julius von". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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