A Trip to the Museum

moaThere are certain perks to being a blogger on an archaeological excavtion…for one thing, I’m not spending the day in the blazing Malborough sun down a hole getting covered in dirt. I have the utmost admiration for how hard all the archaeologists at Wairau Bar are working – they spend all day excavating, measuring and recording,  and stagger back into camp looking like they’ve been stuck in a chimney, while I’m in a shady tent tapping away and drinking lots of coffee. Being a blogger also means that it’s my job to cover all angles of this wonderful story, wherever they may take me. So when Roger Fyfe, Senior Curator of Anthropology at Canterbury Museum, rang me up and invited me to spend an afternoon down in Christchurch, I was off like a shot.

Canterbury Museum is where everything that was excavated from the Wairau Bar settlement in the past has been stored and studied, so I thought you might be interested in seeing where they keep it all and how much is there. As well as 147 taonga excavated from burials, there are approximately 2,000 other artefacts from the site included a huge variety of necklaces, bracelets, pendants, fish hooks, fishing lures, stone cutters, adzes, drill points, files, awls, sinkers, needles and spear points, as well as 61 boxes of midden, and almost 4,000 animal bones.

This is going to be more of a photo essay than an article – if you’re interested in finding out more I highly recommend you visit the Museum if you get a chance. Many of the more spectacular artefacts are on public display, but you won’t be able to see most of the items, which are kept safe and secure in a special storage vault. Of course that’s another blogger’s perk – I got to have a jack behind the scenes so I can show you what goes on, plus I tracked down a few other items, not from Wairau Bar, that I thought you might be interested in!

Many thanks to Roger Fyfe and Paul Scofield who hosted me and showed me around – top blokes both of them and a wealth of information.

moa-entrance1taonga-display-1adze-displayadze-display-2moa-hunterstorage-vaultartefact-drawermoa-egggiant-moa-boneeagle-clawI just wanted to finish with a special  word for all the Rangitane people out there  – I know a lot of you read the blog from overseas to keep up with what’s going on – many thanks for your feedback and comments. At the moment, Canterbury Museum are in the process of designing (along with Rangitane of course) the wakatu papaku that will bear your tupuna back to Wairau Bar – they’re coming home soon…

kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawa nui



2 Responses to “A Trip to the Museum”

  1. 1 Jay
    January 22, 2009 at 7:09 am

    When are you going to writeup the DNA study comparing Rangitane DNA to the DNA of the skeletons? What a wonderful opportunity to prove that these really are the ancestors of the Rangitane!

  2. 2 wairau
    January 22, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Hi Jay – I’m heading back down to Dunedin next week, and I’ll be talking to the researchers down there about their work and posting on it ASAP


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