Change over time on Mana Island
This thesis is centred around an analysis of faunal material from a 1990 excavation at site R26/141 on Mana Island, Wellington. This material was used to infer patterns of change over time in the uses of Mana Island; from a temporary fishing encampment in the early fifteenth century to a more permanent occupation by Ngāti Toa in the early nineteenth century. Faunal material from three culturally deposited layers was sorted, identified, and quantified. The five major classes contributing to this analysis were shellfish, fish, mammals, birds, and reptiles. Several of these classes of faunal material from Mana had been partially or wholly identified and quantified in the past, but only one in detail enough for publication. Minimum numbers of individuals (MNI) were calculated for each taxon, and the MNI values used along with existing published data to develop meat and energy yield data for each class. This combined data was used to analyse change over time in catch rates, habitat exploitation, dietary components, and activity patterns in relation to faunal exploitation. Shellfish were not a large contributor to the diet of the occupants of Mana Island during either occupation period. What shellfish was present was mainly locally gathered, with a few exceptions. Those few exceptions varied between time periods, likely as a result of differing mainland resource patches. Fish were by far the largest contributor to diet. Fishing methods appeared to have changed over time to a heavier reliance upon netting in the later occupation. A decline in snapper catch rates was also noted. The mammal bone mostly reflected the known presence/absence of species on and around Mana, and no major trends were noted. Avian species were a relatively steady dietary contributor over time. Moa bone was present only in the early occupation as expected. Forest and coastal birds were the most commonly exploited avian taxa, and the later period occupation demonstrated a decrease in catch rates of forest species in favour of a larger variety of coastal species. Reptilian contributions to diet were almost non- existent in the early period occupation, but boomed in the later occupation. This was suggested to be consistent with Te Rauparaha’s penchant for ngārara hunts. All evidence supplied in the analysis led to the conclusion that the early period occupation represented by Layers 3 and Black were the remains of a temporary fishing encampment, populated by a small family or hunting group. The late period occupation was known via oral tradition and historical documentation to be that associated with Te Rangihaeata and Te Rauparaha. All evidence found supports the presence of a permanent village with residents of much higher status than the early period occupation. Comparison of these two occupation periods has revealed some stark differences in the way Mana Island has been used and occupied over the course of New Zealand history. These observations were compared to the wider Porirua and Cook Strait regions.
Advisor: Smith, Ian
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Anthropology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Mana Island; archaeology; new zealand; archaeozoology; faunal analysis
Research Type: Thesis