Jan 25, 2013
Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand
Abstract Archaeozoological data from two New Zealand regions, Greater Hauraki in northern North Island and Otago-Catlins in southern South Island, are examined to document exploitation of the marine environment by Maori prior to European settlement. Data from 107 reliably dated archaeological assemblages are summarized to show the range of shellfish, finfish, marine bird and marine mammal taxa that were harvested and the relative importance of species within each of these classes. Regional differences in faunal spectra are detected and shown to be attributable chiefly to geographic variations in availability of taxa. Changes over time are apparent in the northern region, but are much less marked in the south. Marine mammals and birds disappear or decline in abundance, with human predation the most likely cause. Changes in the composition of shellfish and finfish harvests reflect changes in the location and organization of human settlements, driven largely by expanding demand for land suitable for horticulture.