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New Zealand Archaeology Blog

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Quotes for Archaeologists

"The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it" Oscar Wilde. 1891. The Critic as Artist.

"A thing belongs to the one who remembers it most obsessively" Kanan Makiya. 2001. The Rock: A Tale of Seventh-Century Jerusalem.

"About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorise; and I remember some one saying that at this rate a man might well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles and describe their colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of service." Charles Darwin 1861.

"Problems can not be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them." Albert Einstein

"Archaeologists ought to be grateful to worms, as they protect and preserve for an indefinitely long period every object, not liable to decay, which is dropped on the surface of the land, by burying it beneath their casting." Charles Darwin 1881

"The hardest thing about being a communist is trying to predict the past." Milovan Djilas (1911-1995), Yugoslav author-politician. Djilas was warning apparatchiks rather than Marxist archaeologists - but still ....

"You never know how the past is going to turn out." Jude Quinn in I'm Not There, 2007

"Astronomers have a great advantage over archaeologists: they can see the past." Loeb and Pritchard, New Scentist 27 Oct 2012

"The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

"... everything happens in its own time" Bob Dylan, BBC interview

"Time is not a thing that passes ... it's a sea on which you float." Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

"I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times." (Psalm 77:5 (King James Version)

"The more one can see the past the more one can see the future." David Hockney Secret Knowledge 2006:197.

"In the past, nothing is irretrievably lost, but on the contrary, everything is irrevocably stored and treasured." Victor Frankl 1946 Man's Search for Meaning.

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." George Orwell 1984


Monday, 30 June 2008

NEW publication: Archaeology of the Bay of Plenty
By Garry Law. 149 p.

What's it about?
This report summarises the state of knowledge of the archaeology of the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, and reviews research themes and priorities of the past and for the future. The Bay of Plenty is favoured as a place to live today, but this has not always been the case. Its first settlement by Maori seems to have been sparse, whereas there are numerous sites from the later pre-European occupation period. The early economy was based around the marine resources and soils, which were well suited to cultivation of kumara.
The first European visitors took relatively little interest in the region as it generally lacked the gold and accessible timber resources that drove early growth elsewhere, and cobalt-deficient soils made pastoral farming unattractive in much of the area. The development of improved transport resulted in greater growth, and pastoral farming increased as the lowlands and swamps were drained. In the second half of the 20th century, exotic forestry, energy and horticulture were the main drivers of growth in the region, which now has a rapidly increasing population. All of these stories are illuminated by the archaeology of the region, and there is great potential to tell more. To do this, research strategies and plans need to focus on gaining a better understanding of Maori settlement and resource use away from the coast, examining the factors leading to the widespread adoption of pa from about AD 1500, and making better use of the archaeological material arising from mitigation excavations of Maori sites.
Comprehensive recording of historic archaeological sites is also needed.

The above new publication is now in press and can be downloaded from:


The principal organisation for archaeologists in New Zealand is the New Zealand Archaeological Association.

My interests include: C14 dating, numerical taxonomy, site protection in development projects, web communication and museums.  

Garry Law
About me

This page is mainly about New Zealand archaeology.  The Blog here is some personal observations which I might make from time to time.

Archaeology in New Zealand is practiced in respect of the Maori (Polynesian) occupation of New Zealand (including the Kermadec Islands to the north and Chatham Islands in the east), starting perhaps 800 years ago, but also in respect of historic sites left by more recent visitors and immigrants, European and Chinese, since 1800 AD, looking at settlements and sealing, whaling and mining industries.

New Zealand archaeology relates particularly to New Zealand of course, but archaeologists based here also work in Polynesia, the rest of Oceania, particularly on Polynesian origins and also in South East Asia - particularly Thailand. There is also some research on historic sites in Antarctica. There are close professional relationships with Australian archaeologists and a quite a few there have come from here, but little research is conducted across the Tasman Sea in either direction.

Auckland, August 1908: A Stop on the Great White Fleet World Cruise 
By: Garry Law
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