James Hector Explorer Scientist Leader

Author(s): Simon Nathan

NZ - Biography

James Hector was the dominant personality in the small nineteenth-century scientific community in New Zealand. As the first scientist employed by the government, he was the founder of the Geological Survey (now GNS Science), Colonial Museum (now Te Papa), New Zealand Institute (now Royal Society of New Zealand) and the Colonial Botanic Garden (now Wellington Botanic Garden), as well as being a trusted government advisor. Whenever a tricky technical problem arose, the first question was often, ‘What does Dr Hector think?’ Among his many achievements, Hector was the first to recognise and describe Hector’s dolphin, to introduce and spread seeds of radiata pine and macrocarpa around New Zealand, and to standardise New Zealand time. He set up a national earthquake-recording system, the forerunner of today’s GeoNet, and was one of the first observers to report on the disastrous 1886 Tarawera eruption.

James Hector: Explorer, scientist, leader describes the life and work of this multi-talented man and the organisations he founded. It is aimed at the general reader with an interest in New Zealand’s history and natural environment, and is generously illustrated.

This is the first biography about this extraordinary man. James Hector has been hugely influential in New Zealand’s scientific arena, establishing wide number of important New Zealand scientific institutions. Easily read and supported by interesting photographs, illustrations and artefacts, this book builds a picture of the man, his many scientific achievements and enduring influence. - Sarah


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SIMON NATHAN is a geologist and writer with a fascination for the scientists who gradually came to understand the unique features of the New Zealand environment. Much of his career has been at GNS Science (where he is now an emeritus scientist), and he has also been science editor for Te Ara, the online Encyclopedia of New Zealand. As well as technical publications, he has written biographies of Harold Wellman (the man who discovered the Alpine Fault) and Joseph Divis (mining town photographer).


General Fields

  • : 9781877480461
  • : Potton & Burton
  • : Potton & Burton
  • : January 2015
  • : 23.00 cmmm
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 264
  • : Simon Nathan
  • : en