New Zealand Archaeological Association Conference 2021

  • Rebecca Kinaston (Speaker)
  • Waikatu-Tainui (Advisor)
  • Sian Keith (Contributor)
  • Beatrice Husdon (Contributor)
  • Robyn Kramer (Contributor)
  • Geber, J. (Contributor)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Intensive horticulture in the Waikato led to a primarily vegetarian diet for Māori ca. 250-170 years ago | In May 2018, the remains of at least seven kōiwi (254-171 cal BP) were discovered at Tamahere during earthworks for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Hamilton Section of the Waikato Expressway. The kōiwi were placed in the top fill of a borrow pit and were most likely moved to the pit as disarticulated remains after decomposition elsewhere – an interment type known as a secondary burial. Approval was granted by the Hamilton section’s Tangata Whenua Working Group of the Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency for the osteological and isotopic analysis of the kōiwi, who are now reburied. Here, we discuss the results of the isotope analyses used to interpret the diet and childhood residency of the kōiwi, within the context of a rare borrow pit
secondary burial. Compared to a dietary baseline for Aotearoa, the Tamahere individuals (n=7) were eating a diet that consisted almost completely of plant foods, most likely kumara and taro. This dietary interpretation was supported by
the mild tooth wear and presence of caries (tooth cavities) within the dentition of the kōiwi. Additional strontium isotope analysis of two individuals suggested these people were local to the Tamahere area. We use the isotope and osteological results alongside oral histories to help reconstruct the lives of the
people interred in Tamahere, a place of intensive horticulture similar to that found across the Waikato during this period.
Period5 Jul 2021
Event typeConference
LocationTaupō, New ZealandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational