Omaha Beach

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The Omaha Beach project has provided an important case study in the occupation of an early – late Classic period landscape used by Maori for the exploitation of the rich coastal marine resources including shark, ray, other fish and shellfish. From the mid-15th century, there was frequent use of the sandspit as a base for large-scale pipi extraction, with large quantities of protein collected both for immediate consumption and for longer-term storage. This pattern continued until well after European settlers arrived in the area.


Location and Date

  • Omaha Beach, Whangateau Harbour, near Warkworth. New Zealand
  • Excavations between 2002-2004
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Pre-colonial Maori shell middens. Mid-15th Century to 18th Century AD/CE


Project Director: Rod Clough (PhD)

Season 1

  • Supervisors: Matthew Campbell (PhD), Donald Prince (MA Hons)
  • Archaeologists: Kim Tatton (MA Hons), Mica Plowman (MA Hons), Barry Baquié (MA Hons)
  • Historian: Tania Mace (MA Hons)

Season 2

  • Supervisors: Donald Prince (MA Hons), Simon H. Bickler (PhD)
  • Co-ordinator: Mica Plowman (MA Hons)
  • Archaeologists: Vanessa Tanner (MA), Sally Burgess (MA Hons), Barry Baquié (MA Hons)

Ngati Manuhiri/Ngati Wai Representatives:

  • Ringi Brown
  • Aaron Brown

Other contributing specialists:

  • Dr Marianne Turner – Lithics
  • Dr Judith Littleton – Skeletal material
  • Dr Rod Wallace – Charcoal analysis
  • Charlotte Judge – Fishbone (2002)


Only a few artefacts recovered: an adze (in Season 1) and a netsinker (in Season 2) with some obsidian flakes as well. Predominantly shell midden.


Excavation Report:

Omaha Beach Archaeological Project (2003). Includes Report PDF, additional photos, archaeological plans and sections and web interface. Available from Clough and Associates Website


  • Campbell, M., S. Bickler, R. Clough. 2004. The Archaeology of Omaha Sandspit, Northland, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Archaeology 25(2003):121-157.
  • Campbell, M. 2003. Contingent scales of analysis at Omaha, northern New Zealand. Australian Archaeology 57:112-118.
  • Campbell, M., R. Clough. 2002. Omaha Beach, Stage 1: Preliminary Archaeological Report. Archaeology in New Zealand 45(2):128-152.

See other Category:Prehistoric