University of Otago archaeologist Associate Prof Ian Smith and archaeology honorary research fellow Dr Angela Middleton at the site of New Zealand's first mission station, in the Bay of Islands. Photo supplied.
Two centuries after the first Christian mission station was
established in New Zealand, University of Otago
archaeologists are shedding new light on the daily lives of
the country's first permanent European settlers.
This is the bicentennial year of missions arriving in New
Zealand, and celebrations will be centred on the Bay of
Islands, in December.
The site of New Zealand's first mission station and its first
classroom has been uncovered during two years of fieldwork
led by Otago archaeologists.
''We've found out some pretty amazing things and we've got
more to do in terms of analysing the material,'' Otago
University archaeologist Associate Prof Ian Smith said on
Prof Smith, of the Otago anthropology and archaeology
department, and archaeology honorary research fellow Dr
Angela Middleton led the excavation team, supported by the
Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Historic
Researchers had found what was likely to be the remains of
the house of early missionary Thomas Kendall and his family,
Prof Smith said.
Also unearthed were ceramic sherds and glass and gun flints,
the latter ''evidence that muskets were present at the
The site of New Zealand's first school had included a
''modest-sized classroom'' and ''lots of slate pencils, and
fragments of writing slates, and children's toys''.
The Hohi Mission Station excavations took place on the
Purerua Peninsula, in the Bay of Islands, in February 2012
and early last year.
New Zealand's first permanent European settlement had been
founded in 1814, and the research helped clarify what life
was like for the Church Missionary Society missionaries and
Maori at the time.
The place where the Hohi mission stood from 1814 to 1832 has
since been abandoned.
In 1907 it became the Marsden Cross Historic Reserve.
The archaeological evidence highlighted the ''hard struggle''
that these first European settlers had in making a living,
and ''how dependent they were on local Maori for food
supplies and protection'', he said.
• Otago University Press has just published a book by Dr
Middleton: Kerikeri Mission and Kororipo Pa: An Entwined