Journal Number 103
May 2007


Edwin Daniel Hatch (1919- )
Danhatchia australis

By Val Smith

Edward Daniel (Dan) Hatch, an accountant by profession, became New Zealand's foremost orchidologist of the 20th century. His father was born in Nicaragua, where his grandfather was vice-consul for the Mosquito Coast. Dan, the third ED Hatch, was born in London in 1919, spent the first few years of his childhood in Salisbury, and came to New Zealand with his parents in 1922.

His father was familiar with the swamps of Central America, and gravitated to Laingholm as the wildest place he could find. Dan still lives there, on the Manukau coast at the foot of the Waitakeres, in the midst of native bush.

As a child Dan was acquainted with botany - his father's friend, James Hunter, was a friend of Cockayne's, and from the age of 14 Dan took a keen interest in plants. He got into orchids by chance, when he was stationed at Waiouru in the early 1940's. Ostensibly deer-stalking with friends at weekends, he constantly rode away on his army issue bike and botanised the tussock.

He found seven orchids not in Cheeseman's Manual of the New Zealand Flora and sent specimens to DSIR at Wellington for identification. They didn't know them either, and referred him to HMR Rupp in Sydney. A result of that contact was their joint paper on the Trans-Tasman orchids, including a description of Aporostylis bifolia, which is still valid. Hatch then set out to describe all the New Zealand orchids.

He did this from 1945 to 1963 in a series of nineteen papers, illustrated mainly by his father, for the Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand. In his booklet Auckland's orchids (1950) he did his own drawings. Round the year with the orchids of Auckland, a month by month account of flowering times and brief descriptions of local species, was published as an Auckland Botanical Society bulletin in 1951. In a New Zealand Gardener magazine article, Native orchids - beautiful. anti-social, uncultivable, he shared his knowledge, enthusiasm and concerns with enthusiasts less scientifically minded.

In 1987 he was honoured by an Auckland Botanical Society invitation to give the Lucy Cranwell lecture; he spoke about The small green orchid. Two orchids are named for him, elusive Danhatchia australis, and a sun orchid Thelymitra hatchii. In

1988 his contribution to the study of New Zealand orchids was recognised by his election to Fellowship of the Linnæan Society. He is one of five Honorary Life Members of the New Zealand Native Orchid Group. Inevitably he had his critics, but he also made many good and loyal friends.

In a guest editorial in the New Zealand Native Orchid Journal on the occasion of his 80th birthday, he said that he was interested, ignorant and wanted to know. In the process of his learning, he wrote well over a hundred scientific papers, and became the major contributor to the present day knowledge of New Zealand orchids.

He is now 87, and continues to contribute regularly to the Journal.


Danhatchia australis (Hatch) Garay & Christenson. Orchadian 11(10): 470 (1995)

An endemic New Zealand genus of one species.

A rhizomatous, leafless epiparasite, associated with nikau and/or taraire, and lacking chlorophyll, though occasional chloroplasts in the cells of the leaf-bracts suggest that the species has evolved from a normal green-leaved plant.

The stems are pinkish to dark brown with several colourless leaf bracts.

It flowers from December to February, and the flowers rarely open, but when they do they remain open for 2-3 weeks. The sepals and petals have conspicuous cream-coloured tips.

The plant was initially thought to be a species of the Japanese genus Yoania but is now recognised as a monospecific New Zealand genus.

Hatch's first specimen was collected by E. Kulka from Waipoua River on 28 January 1955: "A single dried specimen, plucked at ground level and a little past full bloom...."




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