My Dear Dr Haast: Transcriptions of selected letters from Robert Langley Holmes to Julius Haast between 1864-65 and 1868-70
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Robert Langley Holmes, born in Ireland in 1833, spent eleven years in New Zealand between 1859-1870 before settling in Fiji. During his stay in New Zealand he worked directly under two of the giants of the colonial scientific community: Julius Haast in Canterbury and James Hector in Wellington. Holmes wrote to Haast frequently between 1864 and 1887. He was an enthusiastic correspondent, who eagerly reported back to Haast the latest social and scientific gossip, and his letters are a delight to the historian. The letters in this collection, selected as background material for a forthcoming biography of James Hector, focus on two episodes:
• The New Zealand Industrial Exhibition held at Dunedin in early 1865, which Hector was involved in organising. Holmes was sent to Dunedin in late 1864 by Haast to set up and oversee the Canterbury display, and returned a few months later to dispose of the exhibits.
• The period from 1868-70 when Holmes was employed temporarily by Hector and the Colonial Museum in Wellington. Holmes was given a variety of clerical tasks, including preparing the first two volumes of the Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute for publication.