The return of New Zealand's first people
February 12, 2009 6:50 PM   Subscribe

In 1939, a 13-year-old boy discovered New Zealand's most significant archaeological site—the remains of a 700-year-old Māori village on the Wairau Bar, Marlborough ...

Excavated in the 1940s and '50s, the site yielded a number of Māori skeletons, as well as the remains of now-extinct moa and giant eagles, which, with a wing-span of over 3 metres, were once the world's largest birds of prey.

In January 2009, the Māori remains were re-interred, and new excavations carried out. Along this time was a blogger and photographer [warning: WindowsMedia].
posted by Sonny Jim (8 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I was thinking that the first sentence would lead to a story where he discovers an ancient mystic Māori artifact that turns him into New Zealand's national superhero. Well, it's a cool story, regardless.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:03 PM on February 12, 2009

That was fascinating. Thanks for posting it.
posted by serazin at 8:27 PM on February 12, 2009

The nice thing about New Zealand is that because humans only arrived 800 or so years ago there are still plenty of places which there are absolutely no signs of human presence at all - pristine states if you like. You have to go deep into the valleys and mountains to find these places, mind you, but unlike Europe or Asia they do exist. I remember appreciating this when I climbing mountains in Japan and just about everywhere you could find rocks had been carved or footholds been dug...because people had been continuously living there for thousands of years.

Not to disrespect those graves in Wairau, but the real sacred places in NZ for me are those without any signs of people.
posted by dydecker at 8:45 PM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Interesting.. strange I was told way back in the day that Maoris did not occupy the south island.
posted by lundman at 11:25 PM on February 12, 2009

Those eagles are definitely scary. Great Post. Thank you.
posted by adamvasco at 12:50 AM on February 13, 2009

It would be cool if someone made a movie in New Zealand that featured giant eagles carrying off small humans...oh wait, never mind.
posted by Ber at 11:09 AM on February 13, 2009

I wish those giant eagles were still around.

Nifty post.
posted by batmonkey at 11:23 AM on February 13, 2009

700 year old adze head discovered, possibly placed in building foundation for spiritual protection?

Aaaargh! Dude! PUT IT BACK, PUT IT BACK!

Anecdote: my father made a significant find of greenstone and other rock adzes, clay pipes, other (lovely, fascinating) objects, on our property ... local knowledge implied a fairly 'modern' (post-settler) gravesite there.
Outside the family we were not allowed to speak of it. He wouldn't tell us the exact spot. One of many such family secrets.
Days before he died, my father re-interred the lot. And apologised.
posted by Catch at 3:43 PM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

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