April 30, 2021
Iwi partnerships key to archaeology in Aotearoa
An Otago University researcher is praising South Island hapū for their help discovering ancient kūmara pits just north of Dunedin.
Research published in science journal Plus One says 15th century Māori stored live kūmara in pits dug into sand dunes at Purakaunui in eastern Otago – 200km south of the previously accepted limit for kūmara storage.
Associate Professor Ian Barber says it suggests early Māori were adapting to a declining Moa population, forcing them to find ways to store food in a harsher climate.
He says forming a relationship with Kāti Huirapa ki Puketeraki was critical to the success of the project.
"You can't legally or ethically do archaeology in New Zealand involving Māori, or I also have projects on the Chatham Islands Rēkohu where I partner with Moriori, and you have to have those relationships, not just consent but collaboration," he says.
Associate Professor Ian Barber says scientists have to respect such sites are often sacred to mana whenua communities.
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