Investigating traditional mahinga kai practices of preservation throughout Aotearoa
Project supervisor: Associate Professor Anne-Marie Jackson
Institution: The University of Otago
Project location: The University of Otago, Dunedin Campus
Project Summary: The coastal environment of New Zealand contains a large number of archaeological midden sites that contain the remains of food preparation, consumption and discard. These food remains provide a reliable record of mahinga kai practices at particular times and places. It is possible, however, that the food may not have been consumed immediately and was preserved and transported for later use. Although food preservation is widely practised in te ao Māori, little is known about the diversity of practices involved either historically, or archaeologically.
In this project the intern will compile a comprehensive database of preservation practices in Aotearoa based on archival and historical resources, which will inform future work on understanding the practices that underpin the formation of archaeological midden (food refuse) sites. Preservation practices in te ao Māori have been expanding since European colonisation (e.g., bottled preservation of kahawai) so once the historical data set is completed it will also form a baseline for investigating contemporary food preservation practices.
The intern will be working with the SPAR team, a research unit in the Archaeology Programme at the University of Otago, that has a team of experienced researchers specialising in the archaeology and early history of Aotearoa. The work will be based in Dunedin where the intern will examine archival and historical records to understand the types of preservation methods that were practiced in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Research activities will include a literature review of mātauranga Māori preserving techniques across regions, seasons and ecologies throughout New Zealand and the findings of this will be submitted as a report and compiled as a bibliographic resource.