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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Haast, Sir John Francis Julius von

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Haast, Sir John Francis Julius von, K.C.M.G., Ph.D., F.R.S., F.L.S., F.G.S., C.M.Z.S., son of Mathias Haas, in Bonn, Germany, was born on May 1st, 1824, and educated at the schools of Bonn and Cologne, and at the University of Bonn. At college he devoted himself to geological studies, and for some years resided in France. In 1858 he arrived in Auckland, N.Z., and accompanied Dr. Hochstetter in his tour through the colony. Being employed by the authorities of Nelson to explore the western and southern parts of the province, he made many geological and topographical discoveries in that region, and a report of his explorations was printed by the Government. In 1861 he was appointed Provincial Geologist of Canterbury, and made numerous scientific expeditions into the unknown uplands and into Westland, the results being embodied afterwards in a volume on the geology of the provinces of Westland and Canterbury. In recognition of these services the Royal University of Tubingen granted him the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1862, and he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1867. Dr. von Haast was instrumental in founding the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, which has the reputation of being the finest in the southern hemisphere, and of which he was director down to the time of his death. In 1872 he joined in founding the Canterbury Collegiate Union, from which sprang Canterbury College, in affiliation to the New Zealand University, of which he was a Fellow and a member of the Senate. From its foundation till his death Dr. von Haast was Professor of Geology and Palaeontology in Canterbury College. In 1862 he founded the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury. In 1884 he received the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society, the first bestowed for exploration in New Zealand. In 1886 he went to England as Commissioner for New Zealand at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, and in the same year was created K.C.M.G., having previously been C.M.G. He died after his return to New Zealand, on August 15th, 1887. Sir Julius von Haast married in 1863 Mary, daughter of Edward Dobson, C.E., M.I.E.C., of Christchurch, N.Z. (q.v.), who still survives.