Redcliffs Archaeological History and Material Culture
Over 140 years of excavation events at the Redcliffs site complex on the edge of Ihutai, Canterbury, has resulted in a unique material culture collection in Canterbury Museum. The site complex’s physical setting is located with easy access to a large range of resources, inland access routes, and shelter on Canterbury’s east coast. However, it lay directly on the shores of a highly dynamic microtidal estuary, which was an open bay upon first Māori arrival to the area and has likely influenced past patterns of settlement and the preservation of the local archaeological record. This thesis has achieved two outcomes. The first was the organisation and synthesis of the archaeological history of the Redcliffs site complex, from 1865-2003, in order to recognise the state and availability of Redcliffs archaeological information for future studies. The second was the production of an artefact inventory and description of the Redcliffs site complex material culture collection based on records in Canterbury Museum. This work supports that Redcliffs was the host of several temporary camps during winter spanning the mid to late 14th century AD to the early 16th century AD. Rather than Redcliffs being simply a ‘Moa Hunter’ camp, as it is often described, it was the locus of broad scale and opportunistic hunter gatherer practices, with a focus on fishing, shellfish collection, and fowling. Moncks Cave’s material culture showed some distinctions to that of the rest of the site complex which, with what is previously known about its faunal record, reveals that large scale cultural changes were taking place between AD1400 to AD1500 in relation to the decline of moa and seal and likely local geomorphological fluctuations. While many more aspects of Redcliffs life need further investigation, particularly the site complex’s chronology, the Redcliffs site complex’s material culture and especially its organic artefacts have revealed a more detailed and realistic image of Māori everyday life during the earliest periods of settlement than previously seen in Aotearoa.
Advisor: Walter, Richard
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Anthropology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; Archaeology; Material Culture; Moa Bone Point Cave; Moncks Cave; Redcliffs Flat; Redcliffs; Sumner Burial Ground; Sumner Cutting; Maori Prehistory; Organic Artefacts; Sumner; Archaic; Maori; Aotearoa; Canterbury Museum; Historic Records; Roger Duff; Michael Trotter; Chris Jacomb; Junior Archaeological Club; Selwyn Hovell; Wooden Artefacts; Culture Change; Geomorphological; Southshore Spit; Moa Bone; Midden; Site Complex; Fourteenth Century; Fifteenth Century; Sixteenth Century; Tranisitonal; Bird Spear Point; Waka; Outrigger Float; Moa Hunter; Julius von Haast; McKay; Inventory; Winter Camp; Avon-Heathcote Estuary; Ihutai
Research Type: Thesis