December 06, 2018
Science and mātauranga combine to reveal Waikato past
Waikato University researchers are on a mission to find and map the region's 500 plus ancient pā before development overwhelms them.
Associate professors Alan Hogg and Tom Roa and Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki has a $827,000 Marsden Fund grant for the project, which involves carbon dating preserved round-wood poles or stakes used as part of the pā defences.
The overall aim is to create a regional history of Waikato wetland pā and gardens for the pre-european transitional period from about 1400 to 1800.
Dr Hogg says the science involves radiocarbon ‘wiggle-matching’which combines carbon dating and tree-ring studies, which gives a more accurate age of a palisade than previous methods.
Associate professor Roa says understanding the development and chronology of pā is critical to understanding the evolution and development of Māori culture, so the scientific findings will be cross referenced with knowledge held by Tainui in whakapapa, pūrākau, waiata, tongikura, pēpeha and kōrero tuku iho.
He says cultural knowledge of these places has also been eroded through the colonial period, and the project will revive, excite and regenerate knowledge of Māori history.
It will also help iwi and hapū assert their kaitiakitanga for the wellbeing of the natural environment.
Interviews will be held to compile tribal histories associated with the selected Waikato pā and gardens.
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