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Excavation of three prehistoric Maori sites, south of Whangarei.



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South of Whangarei
Excavation carried out in February 2008 as a joint project between Clough & Associates Ltd and the Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland Field School. Excavations on behalf of Whangarei District Council.

Summary of Results

The Ngako valley head is thus a small discrete archaeological landscape, containing the physical remains of a prehistoric social/political system. If, as seems likely, there was no pa on the adjacent Mt. Tikorangi, then this is not a satellite settlement, but rather a system in its own right, although probably associated with a larger stronghold some distance away in the surrounding region to which the population could retreat in times of large scale warfare.

The original archaeological survey by Simon Best located at least 14 prehistoric sites in the watershed, and it is certain that more are present, which have either been missed or have no visible surface detail. Caches of agricultural tools in the swamps are likely to be in the latter category. The sites cover a range of types, from a small pa to single pits and/or terraces. The topography of the area has resulted in the larger complexes being on the knolls on the west and north slopes of the valley head, with the sites spread along the more gentle north-facing slope south of the Ngako in general being much smaller. Of the latter however site QO7/1101 however is extensive, and is also the central site on the south side. This may be the equivalent to 1 of the more discrete ridge sites on the north side, with the smaller sites around it at some distance due to the topography.

See the Introductory Video (Windows only) by Dr Marianne Turner:

Excavation of Q07/1092 revealed a number of large storage pits, smaller pits, possible house terraces. The storage pits include a long skinny pit - approximately 9m x 2.5m - along with other wider pits. Drains around the edges of the pits are visible with central lines of postholes. View a video of results (Windows only) of the excavations here by Dr Rod Clough. Raylene (Windows only) and Everett (Windows only) provide further commentary on various areas of the excavation.

Below Q07/1092 a house floor was excavated by Rod Wallace and artefacts recovered from here included a greenstone chisel and some adzes. An area of midden was excavated to the north of the house. Dr Rod Wallace describes the house excavation (Part 1 and Part 2) (Windows only).

On the neighbouring ridge, Q07/1103 was excavated to reveal an area of more kumara pits on top of a spur with views across to Portland and the Whangarei Harbour. Firescoops were found in the upper levels of the fill. Dr Marianne Turner describes the results (Windows only) of the excavation.

Photo Gallery

Aerial Photographs

Matt Watson of Scantec Ltd dropped by to take photographs of the excavations using a remote control plane. View some of the results below and view video showing some details of the flights.





University of Auckland:

Survey Team:


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Artefacts recovered include obsidian flakes, a small greenstone chisel, and three adzes.


Not yet known.

Video Gallery

(Windows only)