Murihiku Pa: An Investigation of Pa Sites in the Southern Areas of New Zealand

by Kirsty Nicole Potts

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: New Zealand; Murihiku; Southern New Zealand; Pa; Fortification; Maori; Paa; Archaeology; Pukekura; Mapoutahi; Karitane; Pa a Te Wera; Te Waiateruati; Te Kiri o Tunoho
Record ID: 1303992
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/4981


This Master's Thesis examines why there are fewer recorded pa (fortification) sites in Murihiku, the southern-most region of New Zealand. Previous research on pa sites has primarily focused on areas with high distributions of recorded pa, such as the Northland, Auckland and Waikato regions. This thesis examines the idea of the enclosure, using pa sites as a means through which to view variation in the form and function of enclosed sites. A testable methodology was formulated to establish a data set of archaeologically visible pa sites within Murihiku. Data was compiled from a range of sources, drawing upon archaeological, traditional, environmental and historical sources to produce a list of locations that has been identified, in some form, as pa sites. The resulting 31 sites were critically examined through field visits and the identifying attributes used to categorize these sites as pa. Subsequently, four archaeologically visible pa were confirmed; two prehistoric sites, Mapoutahi and Pa a Te Wera, and two historic sites, Te Waiateruati and Te Kiri o Tunoho. The nature of pa and their role in the late prehistoric period in Murihiku was investigated in order to evaluate the theories on why there are so few pa recorded. Pa sites are part of a dynamic and fluid continuum of site types that range from open to fully enclosed sites. The positions of these sites reflect the locations of socio-economic events, particularly the focus in the late prehistoric period on the east Otago coast. The historic pa appear to have developed in response to more external events, occurring to the north and south of Murihiku. Pa were important occupation sites within the settlement pattern, however, a lower population, varying motivations for warfare and their location south of the horticultural line should be considered as reasons for the fewer number of recorded pa sites in the region. This research project offers a new perspective on settlement in the late prehistoric period in Murihiku. Furthermore, it illustrates the value of understanding enclosed settlements in the occupational history of Murihiku, even though features such as pa are not as common or widely distributed as their northern counterparts. This study supports recent interpretations of Maori pa as multifunctional, multifaceted and complex sites that changed through time.