Medieval Māori settlement discovered in New Zealand
A group of University of Otago archaeologists have uncovered the peripheries of a 14th century Māori village in Gisborne, New Zealand, Scoop reports.
The University’s Southern Pacific Archaeological Research (SPAR) unit has recently completed it’s third visit to Eastland Port in Gisborne. Heritage New Zealand granted archaeological consent to the Port in 2016, as part of an ongoing redevelopment project.
Among the findings in the 2.5 metre-deep excavation were moa bones and other food items, fish hooks manufactured of moa bone and stone tools made of obsidian and chert. The site was located on the edge of an old riverbed. The obsidian (volcanic glass) was used by early Māori settlers as simple cutting tools. The materials found are estimated to date back to the early 1300s.
University of Otago Professor of Archaeology Richard Walter says uncovering the site is significant from a scientific and cultural perspective.
“We don’t know as much about the early occupation around this part of the coastline as we do in other parts of the country,” says Professor Walter.
“There are not too many of these very, early sites and so this one is filling the gaps.”
The area has a significant history as the first landing place of waka (canoes) which carried Maori to the district; and the first contact between Māori and explorer James Cook taking place on the river in 1769. Plans are underway to commemorate the 250th anniversary next year.
The site was identified through Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga’s archaeological consent process, which regulates the modification or destruction of archaeological sites.
Image: David Eccles