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Sir James Hector


1834 - 1907

Geologist and naturalist, who came to dominate science in New Zealand. Born in Edinburgh, the son of a lawyer, Hector was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and the High School, completing his medical training at the University of Edinburgh in 1856. He served briefly as an assistant to Sir James Simpson (1811-70) but accepted a place as surgeon and geologist on the Palliser Expedition to the Canadian Rockies on the recommendation of Sir Roderick Murchison (1792 - 1871). In 1862, he was asked to undertake a geological survey around Otago (New Zealand) which was to take three years. In 1865, he was appointed the first Director of the Geological Survey of New Zealand, acted as scientific advisor to the New Zealand government and was also responsible for setting up the Colonial Museum in Wellington. He went on to write numerous scientific papers and was appointed Chancellor of the University of New Zealand in 1885.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1860), Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (1861), a Fellow of the Royal Society (1866), awarded a Golden Cross by the German Emperor in 1864, the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society in 1876 and the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1891. He was knighted in 1886.

Retiring in 1903, he died at his home near Wellington. An award, a settlement, Mount Hector, Lake Hector and eleven species, including Hector's Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori), all bear his name. He is also remembered by a substantial monument in Canada.


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