DAVIES, William Charles

William Charles Davies
buried 8 October 1952 Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson, block 21 plot 002  [1]

 William Charles Davies
from New Zealand Native Plant Studies by William C. Davies
A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1956.

1. Paryphanta hochstetteri - Saddle Hill, Nelson
2. Paryphanta hochstetteri - Takaka Hill, Nelson
3. Paryphanta bushyi - Hokianga
attributed to William Charles Davies

Paryphanta superba
from near Rocks Point
attributed to William Charles Davies

Eggs of Paryphanta bushyi (x7)
by William Charles Davies

Wainuia Edwardi x2
by William Charles Davies

Pterodroma Pycrofti (Pycroft's Petrel)
photographed at night, Hen Island, January 1943
attributed to William Charles Davie

Exhibition of Photographs
Work of Mr W. C. Davies
Institute of Horticulture Delegates Attend
Delegates to the annual conference of the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture yesterday afternoon attended an exhibition of photographs of the New Zealand flora and vegetation by Mr W. C. Davies, Hon. F.R.P.S., late curator of the Cawthron Institute Museum.  The Mayor of Nelson, Mr J. A. Harley, who is resident off the Nelson District Council of the Institute, introduced Mr E. R. Neale, M.P. who officially opened the exhibition at the Suter Art Gallery.

Mr Neale paid a warm tribute to the photographic work of Mr Davies who was the first photographer appointed to the Cawthron Institute staff. Mr Davies' work as a scientific photographer was well known throughout New Zealand and overseas. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, an honour gained only for distinguished services in photography.

Mr Neale, who is chairman of the Cawthron Trust Board, said the delegates, when they visited the Cawthron Institute would see Mr Davies' photographs on glass and in the speaker's opinion that was the finest photography he had ever seen. Since Mr Davies officially severed his connection with the institute staff he had been working on the preparation of a book entitled "New Zealand Native Plant Studies." Most of the photographs in the exhibition would be included in the book, the script for which was now nearly ready. Mr Neale hoped the work would encourage more people, particularly the younger ones to takes a greater interest in the native flora and vegetation.

After thanking Mr Neale, Mr Davies extended a welcome to the visitors. He said he had a definite idea in his mind in starting his work. It was clear to him that the native vegetation was as disappearing so quickly that within a few years it would be impossible to secure photographs which could be obtained now.

Mr Davies gave a short explanatory talk on the photographs in the exhibition which enabled those present to view them with greater appreciation and understanding. The exhibition included 80 big enlargements and 160 illustrations which had been prepared for publication in his book.

Mr Harley commented that Nelson was fortunate in having people of Mr Davies' skill and knowledge, who made their services and talents available to the public for exhibitions and lectures.

In the middle room at the Art Gallery a series of 21 reproductions of masterpieces by German artists of the sixteenth century, Durer and Holbein, was exhibited.

The exhibition will be open each day this week and on Sunday afternoon.
[from cutting from unknown Newspaper] 

Mr W. C. Davies, Hon. F.R.P.S., who had a reputation which extended beyond New Zealand for plant photography, died at Hamilton on Saturday at the age of 79. He was curator of the Cawthron Institute from 1920 to 1945 when he retired. He had been engaged for some years on a photographic illustration of New Zealand native flora as a whole.

More than 50 years ago when engaged as a school teacher, Mr Davies acquired a microscope lens and built himself a camera with which he took photographs to illustrate his lessons. The experiment was a great success and after being a hobby, then a sideline, scientific photography became his life work. He was a New Zealand pioneer in microscopic photography, or photo­micrography as it is technically called.

It was as headmaster of the Mauriceville West School that Mr Davies introduced school gardening on a scientific basis for the first time in New Zealand. His experiments attracted the attention of the authorities and, in 1903, he was made organising instructor in rural science for the Wellington district. In this work he found his photography a great help in illustrating, various subjects and he was frequently called on to supply illustrations for scientific reports and papers. After returning to school-teaching as head master of the Greytown District High School for a period he took up his appointment with the Cawthron Institute. Photography is used at the institute for many purposes but for some years before his retirement Mr Davies' major task was a photographic survey of the native flora of the northern section of the South Island.

Mr Davies was a regular Royal Photographic Society exhibitor and was awarded a fellowship of the society in 1934. In 1932 he gained the society's medal — the only one awarded that year — for a photograph of New Zealand native flora. An honorary fellowship of the society, an honour reserved for distinguished photographers who have been instrumental in developing the art or science of photography, was conferred on him in 1937.

Mr Davies was educated at St. Stephen's Maori School, Parnell, of which his father, Mr J. E. Davies, was headmaster for many years, and the Auckland College and Grammar School, and took science courses at the Auckland University College. He was in the service of the Auckland and Wellington Education Board from 1888 to 1920, including 7 years as organiser of agricultural subjects to teachers under the Wellington Board.

He was appointed curator of the Cawthron museum, and photographer to the Institute in 1920. He was a member of the Quekett Microscopical Club, of London, and also of the British Ecological Society.

Mr Davies was a widower and leaves a son and two daughters.
[from cutting from unknown Newspaper

Some photographs by W. C. Davies were published in The Vegetation of New Zealand, by Leonard Cockayne, Hafner Publishing Company, 1958, London

[1] Nelson City Council Cemeteries Database.

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