John Hardcastle

Category Three: Nationally Recognised Notable New Zealanders

Date of birth

21 January 1847, Wakefield, Yorkshire, England


12 June 1927


Thomas and Caroline Hardcastle




Three sons and two daughters


Teacher training in Christchurch and completed in Australia in April 1878


  • Teacher Waihi Bush (later Woodbury) School
  • Acting headmaster Temuka School
  • Journalist Temuka Leader
  • Lengthy career with Timaru Herald lasting nearly 40 years, firstly as a junior reporter and proof-reader in1879 and later as acting editor 1908-1910, retiring in 1922.


  • Notes on the Geology of South Canterbury, published in 1908
  • Various papers including Origin of the Loess Deposit of the Timaru Plateau’, ‘Timaru Loess as a Climate Register’, ‘On the Drift in South Canterbury’, ‘On Glacier Motion’ ‘On the Timaru Loess as a Climate Register’, ‘Lunar Theories: A Heliocentric Suggestion: Is it New’ and ‘Lunar Theories: A Heliocentric Suggestion that Calls for Some Attention’.


John Hardcastle was an amateur geologist who made an internationally significant scientific contribution to geology through his discovery of loess stratigraphy. The study of stratigraphic features of loess deposits provides information about past climates and can give an indication about what to expect in the future. He also gave lectures on geology, including one to the Educational Institute in 1905 and one to the Mechanics
Institute in 1910.

His findings are even more remarkable given that John Hardcastle had no formal education in the field, but was self-taught. While John Hardcastle is relatively unknown, his contribution to geology as a pioneer has been recognised in his field. In 1991 scientists from all over the world met in Beijing to discuss the work of John Hardcastle – in particular his discovery of the geological relationship between loess deposits and
climates of past years.

Last updated: 16 Sep 2021