AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Prehistoric Maori Subsistence: Evaluating Two Regions in North-eastern New Zealand

by Tiffany Mahalia James-Lee

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Maori; faunal analysis; archaeozoology; subsistence; archaeology; Coromandel Peninsula; Western Bay of Plenty; prehistoric; midden; New Zealand; North Island
Record ID: 1307536
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5542


Most existing models of settlement and subsistence in New Zealand archaeology were developed in conjunction with radiocarbon dates that no longer meet the current criteria for chronometric hygiene, and have generally been based on the restricted set of regions that have been the focus of much academic research, such as Murihiku in the south of the South Island and the Auckland region in the northern North Island. This research evaluates these models by bringing together a corpus of data from two study areas on adjacent parts of the North Island east coast: the Coromandel Peninsula, which was the focus of some early research; and the Western Bay of Plenty, which while dense in archaeological sites, has had relatively little research into subsistence conducted at the regional level. Faunal assemblages with radiocarbon dates that meet strict chronometric hygiene criteria were selected and examined for patterns of spatial and temporal subsistence and variation in site types from which they derived. A case study from Whangamata, Coromandel Peninsula was used to provide fine-grained insight for patterns occurring at the regional level. Regional differences in subsistence and settlement patterns through time are identified. Early settlement in the Coromandel comprised both multi-function and specialised-function sites with generalised subsistence patterns. Settlement in the Western Bay of Plenty was sparse in early prehistory, with a sudden increase in site numbers in the middle period and a tendency towards specialised function sites and an overwhelming dominance of specialised subsistence assemblages. These results challenge the prevailing view of New Zealand prehistory that settlement was more transient in the early period and more settled in the late period. The data also emphasise the diverse patterns in regional prehistory, even when the study regions are directly adjacent to each other.