|dc.description.abstract||Food is an essential part of human existence and directly linked to the cultural behaviour of individuals, groups, and institutions. In their commentary on food studies, Mintz and Du Bois (2002, p. 8) noted that war has been relatively neglected as a research focus. This thesis investigates British and colonial soldiers’ comestibles during the Waikato campaign of the New Zealand Wars, a regional conflict that commenced in 1863. It is the first major investigation that has been carried out on this subject in New Zealand and one of the few investigations worldwide on soldiers’ comestibles during a war.
The thesis addressed three questions: what did soldiers eat and drink during the campaign; how was food security ensured; and what foodways practices indicated status. The questions address themes that are at the core of foodways research (Dery 1997, Bray 2003, Cool 2006, Andersen and Moltsen 2007, Peres 2008, and Eichelberger 2010). Food security was of specific interest because the Waikato campaign followed the disastrous Crimean War and took place during a time of British military supply system reform.
Cognitive archaeology and middle-range theory guided the research process. A middle-range methodological approach was used to address the research questions in three distinct data sources—the official records, eyewitness accounts, and the archaeological record. Each source was compiled as an independent record of comestibles using the same criteria; a middle-range technique used by Binford (1987), Leonie and Crosby (1987), Leonie and Potter (1988) and Smith (1996).
The criteria were based on underlying food culture rule sets (Leach 2008, 2010). The rule sets were modified and used to construct a food culture research framework that addressed the range of data available in the sources. The framework structured the investigation.
Among the findings was evidence that the War Office supply and transportation system reforms had little impact on food systems during the campaign in New Zealand. More unusual findings included the link between food security and luxury foods (a finding not identified in the military food research of Dery 1997, Cool 2006, or Eichelberger 2010). The research also indicated a variety of food practices were used to indicate status. Many of the foodways were embodied in the mess system—a system of hierarchal separation. For example, the mess building or tent was a daily visual reminder of the military hierarchy, e.g. commissioned officers’ messes, sergeants’ messes, enlisted men’s messes. Military hierarchy is directly linked to military control and discipline.
The ideas and hypotheses presented are pertinent to future archaeological investigations at military sites in New Zealand and overseas. The research methodology and the foodways research framework also have applications for comestible research at other sites such as railway camps, abandoned towns, mining camps, as well as for regional analysis of foodways at contemporary pre-historic sites.||