Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Otago archaeologists excavate first school and mission

10 February 2014

Otago archaeologists excavate first school and mission

The site of New Zealand’s first mission station and its first classroom has been revealed during two years of fieldwork and research led by University of Otago archaeologists, uncovering plentiful details about the daily lives of our first permanent European settlers.

The Hohi Mission Station excavations took place in Kerikeri for three weeks in February 2012 and four weeks in Jan-Feb 2013. University of Otago Anthropology and Archaeology Associate Professor Ian Smith and Archaeology Honourary Research Fellow Dr Angela Middleton led the excavation team, supported by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the NZ Historic Places Trust (NZHPT).

“We found the remains of what is likely to have been the house of early New Zealand missionary Thomas Kendall and his family, as well as artefacts like ceramic sherds, glass, a coin dating from 1806 bearing the profile of George III, and gunflints – evidence that muskets were present at the mission,” Associate Professor Smith says.

“We uncovered the site of New Zealand’s first school – a modest-sized classroom – and other features including a Māori-style whare,” he says. “There were lots of slate pencils, and fragments of writing slates, and children’s toys.”

They shed light on New Zealand’s first permanent European settlement founded in 1814, and gave insights into what life was like for the Church Missionary Society missionaries and Māori at the time.

The place where the Hohi mission stood from 1814 to 1832 has been abandoned since that time. In 1907 it became the Marsden Cross Historic Reserve.

Associate Professor Smith says only a handful of paintings and drawings were done when the mission was active, and although the missionaries kept journals and wrote letters and reports, these sources do not give a lot of information about every day life.

“We uncovered significant archaeological features that have added to our understanding of the Hohi mission and the people who lived and worked there – as well as those who were impacted by the mission,” says Dr Smith.

“Around the houses were fragments of the plates and cups that they used for eating and drinking, along with personal items like buttons, items of jewellery, coins, and smoking pipes. We also found food remains - nearly all of these were indigenous foods - shellfish, fish and birds.

“Overall the archaeological evidence paints a picture of the hard struggle that these first European settlers had in making a living here, and how dependent they were on local Māori for food supplies and protection.”

The excavation team included two research assistants; and 10 PhD, MA and BAHons students. Other participants included staff from DOC, and NZHPT, and members of local hapu Ngāti Torehina.

After each fieldwork season Associate Professor Smith spent six months leading a laboratory teamcleaning, sorting, describing and analysing the material that they had brought back. Several publications have already appeared from the results of the 2012 excavations alone.

Meanwhile, Dr Middleton continued her historical research on missionaries and Maori in the Bay of Islands. The first of her two Otago University Press books on this subject has just been published. Kerikeri Mission and Kororipo Pa: An Entwined History looks at the early engagement between Māori and Pakeha in the context of the establishment of the Church Missionary Society mission at Kerikeri in 1819.

Dr Middleton says: “This unique and pivotal location provides tangible evidence of the entwined history of Māori and Pakeha, the relationship that founded modern New Zealand. The site could be seen as a microcosm for the kind of developments that took place between iwi and missions in other parts of the country,” says Dr Middleton.

Her book was launched following a public lecture by Associate Professor Smith at Kingston House in Kerikeri on 9 February.

2014 is the bicentennial of missions arriving in New Zealand: with the focus of celebrations centred on the Bay of Islands.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


John McBeth: On Jonah Lomu

For many New Zealanders, the enormity of Jonah Lomu's reputation will have come as a surprise... His deeds were watched and enthused over by movie stars and musicians, politicians and superstars from other codes. He reached into the lives and homes of millions and mixed with famous people most New Zealanders would only have read about. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news