|dc.description.abstract||This thesis investigates the childhood physiological stress experiences of mid-nineteenth century European and Chinese settlers in Otago, New Zealand, through the histological examination of enamel formation disruption. Immigrants to Otago expected superior living conditions, more upward mobility and the opportunity to obtain more wealth than in their origin countries. Although historical studies frequently argue that the early immigrant populace of New Zealand experienced better health than their contemporaries back home, this has only been recently addressed from a bioarchaeological perspective. Recent archaeological excavations of three cemeteries in the Otago towns of Milton (2016) and Lawrence (2018, 2019) aimed to elucidate the lived experience of nineteenth century Otago settlers.
Children are a valuable and widely used indicator of population health as they are more sensitive to stress events than adults due to the physiological demands of growth. Additionally, the analysis of early childhood experiences in a person that continued to live can contribute to a biosocial picture of individual life histories. Preliminary bioarchaeological evidence has indicated a more nuanced picture of health than the established historical narrative. This thesis presents results of histological analyses of enamel formation disruption that provide evidence for childhood ill-health experiences in early European and Chinese settlers of Otago. Internal indicators of secretory ameloblast function disruption, ‘Wilson bands’, were analysed in individuals from three cemetery sites; St John’s Burial Ground, Milton (SJM) (n =14), and the Ardrossan Street (n = 9) and Gabriel Street (n = 6) Cemeteries, Lawrence. Only one individual did not exhibit evidence of Wilson band formation, and mean prevalence was higher in individuals from the Chinese section of Gabriel Street (mean = 11.8) than those from the predominantly European SJM (mean = 4.6) and Ardrossan Street (mean = 5.7) cemeteries. There was no significant difference in mean duration of enamel formation disruption between all three sites, however one individual (A B1, mean = 22 days) exhibited a much higher average duration compared to all other individuals (SJM mean = 4.2 days, Gabriel Street mean = 4 days, other individuals from Ardrossan Street mean = 4.4 days). Average stress event duration was almost twice as long in European adults (mean = 5.3 days) when compared to European subadults (mean = 2.7 days) from SJM. There were no clear differences in Wilson band prevalence or duration when European males and females were compared. The presence of prenatal Wilson bands in four samples provides evidence for difficult maternal health circumstances. Neonatal line width was variable between samples, and consistent with other published measurements.
The histological results presented in this thesis are consistent with difficult childhood circumstances for early European and Chinese immigrants to Otago, and the first generation of Pākehā children. By comparing evidence for individual experiences between people of different backgrounds, sex and ethnicities, this thesis challenges the homogenous narrative that frequently presented New Zealand as a ‘land of plenty’, free from the hardships of industrial revolution era Britain, or China during a period of socioeconomic collapse.||