New Zealand Archaeological Association 2012 Conference Field Trip
The conference this year is being held in Oamaru in New Zealand’s South Island. Two bus loads of archaeologists went on the field trip today – coincidentally the Day of Archaeology – it is a feature of every annual conference run by the Association.
There is information about the Association and the conference including a programme here:
The conference programme and abstracts can be downloaded here.
Oamaru is renowned in New Zealand for its architecture. It had early wealth from its fine agricultural land, first in exporting grain but later from other crops, and pastoral farming. The wealth of the town in the late 1800s was reflected in its classical architecture. The buildings utilised a local white limestone – Oamaru stone, which was valued for building here and elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand
The area is also rich in prehistoric sites. Early Maori sites occur at river and estuary mouths. They commonly have the bones of New Zealand giant extinct birds, moa, but also other birds, marine mammals and fish exploited by the first residents.
The most notable prehistoric sites in the area are the rock art sites that occur in overhang shelters and caves along the valleys in, and at the margins of the limestone. These date from the whole of Maori occupation and into the contact period where settler items also appear.
Out field trip visited a number of these sites, on a cold clear day, where there was fresh snow on the adjacent hills. We were guided by Maori manawhenua (people of the land) Ngai Tahu who have an active programme in preserving and studying these sites. Brian Allingham who works with them and has long studied them talked at each of the five sites visited as did Amanda Symon, curator of the Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Trust. They requested that any website use of images has their approval. As a consequence it is only the social views that appear here, but there are many images on the web – see the links.
The images we saw in the sites we went to included a spiral carved into the rock and drawings of people, dogs and animal forms. At other sites there are pictures of birds, canoes and many decorative elements.
The Te Ana rock art museum in Timaru is a great place to start a visit to the area http://www.teana.co.nz/ It is run by the Maori manawhenua, Ngai Tahu.
The last stop on the trip was at Otekaieke. This is a grand estate house built in the Scottish manorial style by an immigrant Scot, Robert Campbell. He imported Scots craftsmen to assist in its construction. It is one of a number of like estates in the South Island built on wool wealth. Huge sheep runs were the locations of all these estates. It was only occupied as a house for a few years before Campbell died young, followed shortly after by his widow. They had no descendants. It was subsequently part of the series of estates broken up around 1900 under Government pressure to create more land for small farmers. The home and site was later a boy’s reformatory school but went out of that use and is now privately owned. The gardens are now much degraded and the site cluttered with a diverse range of more modern buildings dating from the school use.
The New Zealand Historic Places Trust register entries for the house and the associated stables can be seen here:
There is more about the station history here.
A fuller set of pictures from the trip can be seen here on facebook.
The site locations are here on Google Maps