Te Puna Mission Station

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Contents

Historical Background

Rangihoua.jpg

In the early years of European contact Te Puna, located in the Bay of Islands, was a focus for trading. Some of the earliest Europeans in New Zealand resided in Te Puna [1]. In 1832 the Church Mission Scociety established the Te Puna Mission Station to replace the closing Oihi Mission and missionaries John King and James Shepherd moved their familes from Oihi to Te Puna [2]. King, with the help of Shepherd and later John Wilson, taught and held weekly church services His wife, Hannah, and thier daughters held school and taught colonial domestic skills to nearby Maori women and children [3]. By June 1834 200 Maori were associated with the mission and by 1842 over 100 Maori had been baptized at the mission [4]. John King died in 1854. Rev. Richard Davis contiuned to hold services and baptisms at Te Puna until his death in 1863. There is no archival evidence of when the mission buildings were abandoned or demolished. There is also no documentary evidence as to when Te Puna stopped opperating as mission station. Archaeological evidence however suggests the mission was demolished in the 1870's [5].

Location and Date

  • Te Puna Mission House in the Bay of Islands
  • Site PO5/24
  • March 25 - April 7, 2002

Team

Excavation Team standing, from left, Dan McCurdy, Ian Smith, David Rudd, Ben Thorne, Stuart Hawkins; sitting, Angela Middleton, Jonathan Carpenter.

Archaeologists

Other Contributors

Structural Features

  • The largest feature uncovered during the excavation was the cellar of the King's house. Much of the archaeology focused on the cellar. Four round post holes were located by the north wall and two post holes were located by the south wall. Horizontal recesses in the clay in the east wall were probably shelf support.
  • A series of post holes seven meters east of the cellar are most likely the location of an outbuilding.
  • A cobbled path and flat stone feature suggest the location of an enterance to the eastern lean-to of the house [6].

Artefacts, Faunal Remains, and Wood

  • 5203 pieces of bottle glass were recovered from the cellar. Over 92% of these pieces were dark olive glass. Very little were expensive or decorative.
  • 1392 grams of window glass was recovered. 1357 grams was very thin glass.
  • 814 ceramic fragments were recovered representing at least 97 vessels. All the ceramics were utilitarian and few were expensive or decorative. There is a predominance of London-style teawares and Willow pattern tablewares. A few sherds were matched to complete vessels of the same pattern on display at other mission houses.
  • 312 clay pipe fragments were recovered from the cellar which represent at least 64 pipes.
  • A large part of the fill consisted of bricks, likely from the chimney.
  • Faunal remains include pig, sheep, beef, poultry, duck, and turkey. Shell midden was also found.
  • The metal artefacts includ and iron bar weighing 6.868 kg, hoop metal, sheet copper, a large piece of lead, seven hinges, several agricultural tools, three cas iron pots, and five domestc irons.
  • 3396 fastners were found. Of these 1197 were nails. 961 nails were wrought iron and 30 were cut iron.
  • Of the largest amount of wood and charcoal found were from kauri. The next largest amount was from hardwoods.
  • Several obsedian flakes were found as well as a chert flake, a grindstone, a broken sharpening stone, and a worked piece of pumice.
  • Buttons, thimbles, beads and pins were also found. Only one thimble is a child's thimble.
  • Nine slate fragments and 28 fragments of slate pencil were recovered.

Conclusions

The artefacts can provide insight into life at the Te Puna Mission. There is a lack of artifacts relating to children, even though seven of the King's children were living in Te Puna [7]. Few of the glass and ceramics were decorative. Some of the ceramics showed flaws and were of seconds quality. These findings indicate that King's were living a frugal life style. The fact that the decorations on some china sherds match with whole china pieces donated to other missions by the King's daughters indicate that china was valuable to the King family [8]. It was not easy to obtain or replace. It may have been passed down to the women of the family. Animal bones indicate that the family primarily ate fish, pig, sheep, and poultry. Metal artefacts indicate the agricultural work condicted at the mission. The presence of the large metal bar and the large piece of lead indicate that blacksmithing was carried out at Te Puna. The large number of glass bottles indicate either regular consumption of alcohol or the use of these bottles to store household liquids [9].

The artefacts not only demonstrate frugality but also efforts to maintain Georgian standards of propriety and appearance. These efforts were considered the external manifestiation of Christian values. The London-style tea ware shows the use of English table manners and tea drinking habbits. The recovery of domestic irons points to a larger process of washing and starching clothes and linen, all which would have been performed by women [10]. The beads, buttons, thimbles, and pins suggest that Maori women and girls were taught to sew. They were most likely hand sewing clothing doing needlepoint. The missionaries at Te Puna were thus not just imposing Christian values onto Maori, but gender roles as well [11] .

The artefacts can also provide insight into when the mission house was abandoned. The majority of the bottle glass is made from three piece moulds, used from the 1820's to the mid nineteenth century. No bottle glass was made from two pieces moulds, used from the 1860's onwards. The lack of glass produced by two piece moulds can help to establish a terminus ante quem for the use of the mission house [12]. Davidson and McDougall pipe stem fragments indicate that the mission house was still in use during the 1860's, if not later [13]. Finally the large number of wrought iron nails along with the 14 wire nails indicate that the used and repaired until the early 1870's [14].

Records report that Maori were living at the mission and a daily basis and the finds support these records. Aside from the above mentioned needlework artefacts,the flakes and worked bones also suggest a Maori present. Also the species represented by the shell midden were all popular foods of the Maori. However the Maori artefacts could also be interpreted as curio collecting and the slate fragments and pencils by themselves do not provide proof of mission school activites. Archival evidence must be combined with archaeological evidence in order to understand the activities at the mission house [15].

References

Middleton, Angela. 2003. Maori and European landscapes at Te Puna, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 1805 - 1850. Archaeology in Oceania. 38: 110-124.

Middleton, Angela. (2008). Missionization and the Cult of Domesticity, Paper presented to World Archaeological Congress, Dublin.

Middleton, Angela. "Silent Voices, Hidden Lives: Archaeology, Class and Gender in the CMS Missions, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 1814–1845." International Journal of Historical Archaeology 11, no. 1 (2007).

Middleton, Angela. (2005). Te Puna: The Archaeology and History of a New Zealand Mission Station 1832–1874. PhD thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Middleton, Angela. Te Puna: Proposed Historic Area. 2003.

Middleton, Angela (2008). Te Puna - A New Zealand Mission Station. Series: Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology, Springer Verlag.

External links

The Christian Missionaries

Missionization and the Cult of Domesticity

Silent Voices, Hidden Lives

Maori and Missionaries

Footnotes

  1. Middleton, Angela. Te Puna: Proposed Historic Area. 2003. (1,3).
  2. ibid. (13-15).
  3. Middleton, Angela. (2005). Te Puna: The Archaeology and History of a New Zealand Mission Station 1832–1874. PhD thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. (8).
  4. Middleton, Angela. 2003. Maori and European landscapes at Te Puna, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 1805 - 1850. Archaeology in Oceania. 38: 110-124. (121).
  5. Middleton, Angela. (2005). Te Puna: The Archaeology and History of a New Zealand Mission Station 1832–1874. PhD thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. (10)
  6. ibid. (15-16).
  7. ibid. (145).
  8. ibid. (72).
  9. ibid. (151-153)
  10. Middleton, Angela. "Silent Voices, Hidden Lives: Archaeology, Class and Gender in the CMS Missions, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 1814–1845." International Journal of Historical Archaeology 11, no. 1 (2007). (11-12)
  11. Middleton, Angela. (2008). Missionization and the Cult of Domesticity, Paper presented to World Archaeological Congress, Dublin. (12-14.
  12. Middleton, Angela. (2005). Te Puna: The Archaeology and History of a New Zealand Mission Station 1832–1874. PhD thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. (68)
  13. ibid. (98).
  14. ibid. (134).
  15. ibid. (153).