Gathercole Peter

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Gathercole Peter W 1929-2010

Peter Gathercole
Born in England, Peter was educated at Cambridge[1] and London University, trained as museum curaror at Birmingham Museum. He moved to Dunedin in 1958 to a joint role with Otago Museum and Otago University, taking the same joint role as H D Skinner and worked with him in the Museum. The university position launched the Department of Anthropology at the University. Peter returned to the UK in 1968 but retained a close interest in New Zealand from then on. He re-visited to Dunedin in 2003 to teach a summer school paper. He was an honorary fellow in the university Department of Anthropology, Gender & Sociology[2]. His positions subsequent to 1968 were Lecturer in ethnology, University of Oxford attached to the Pitt-Rivers Museum, 1968–70, Curator of the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 1970–81[3] and then Dean of Darwin College, Cambridge (latterly Emeritus Fellow). He was the first chair of the UK Museum Ethnographers Group in 1975[4][5]. Peter continued a long-standing research interest in the Pacific region drawing particularly on European collections.

He commenced the teaching of modern archaeology at Otago and undertook some excavations drawing on earlier experience in rescue archaeology in Britain. He also undertook excavation on Pitcairn Island[6]. He was an early supporter of the New Zealand Archaeological Association, filling the roles of secretary and vice president. He attended its 50th anniversary conference in 2004.

Peter was a key figure in emergence of modern archaeology in New Zealand and influential in starting many students and subsequent scholars in the subject.

He had a particular interest in the history of anthropology, publishing on Gordon Childe and the on the influence of Marxism, e.g.[7].

Obituaries by Helen Leach and Kevin Jones are in Archaeology in New Zealand 2010, AINZ 53(4):220-224.


  1. Interview with Peter Gathercole Accessed October 2010.
  2. Professor Peter Gathercole Accessed October 2010.
  3. Pacific Arts Association In Memory of Peter Gathercole accessed October 2010.
  4. Museum Ethnographers Group Accessed October 2010.
  5. Peter Gathercole Museum Ethnographers Group Accessed October 2010.
  6. MS Preliminary report on archaeological fieldwork on Pitcairn Island January to March 1964 University of Otago.
  7. Gathercole Peter, 2000 Childe among the Penguins. Australian Archaeology 50:7-11. accessed October 2010.


This is the New Zealand oriented publications only.

1959 First-aid in the field. NZAA Newsletter 2(3):13-16.

1960 Antiquity and radiocarbon dating. NZAA Newsletter 3(3):19-20,28.

1960 The fifth annual conference of the New Zealand Archaeological Association, Journal of the Polynesian Society 69:160-63.

1961 A guide to the description of flake tools. NZAA Newsletter 4(3):16-19.

1961 A note on the description of ornaments. NZAA Newsletter 4(3):19-21.

1961 Excavations at Tai Rua, Otago, 1961. NZAA Newsletter 4(3):32-33.

1962 Murdering Beach, Otago - a suggestion. NZAA Newsletter 5(3):194-196.

1962 A note on future strategy and tactics. NZAA Newsletter 5(4):221-222.

1964 Archaeology and adult education: some experiences in Otago. NZAA Newsletter 7(1):7-10.

1978 Obituary: Henry Devenish Skinner, O.B.E. 1886-1978, Journal of the Polynesian Society 87:109-10.

2000 Otago 1958 - 1968 (Part 1). Archaeology in New Zealand 43(3):206-219.

2000 Otago 1958 - 1968 (Part 2). Archaeology in New Zealand43(4):283-296.

2002 New Zealand, its museums, and related things – a return visit. Te Ara 27(1)

2004 Aspects and Phases of the 50th. Archaeology in New Zealand 47(4)(special issue):91-96.

2006 Fifty years of the New Zealand Archaeological Association. Antiquity 80(No. 308):459–462.

2010 Tai Rua, North Otago. Archaeology in New Zealand 53(4):264-269.

- and H Knight 1964 Some recording methods employed at Huriawa Peninsula. NZAA Newsletter 7(1):4-7.

-, Foss Leach and Helen Leach Eds. 1974 Comparatively Speaking. University of Otago Press.

Golson, J and P W Gathercole 1962 The last decade in New Zealand Archaeology. Antiquity 36, reprinted NZAA Newsletter 1966 9(1):4-18.