Andrew Brown

Material Culture Traditions of Prehistoric New Zealand

Human expansion into Polynesia began ca. 3,300 BP with the arrival of the Lapita people into the western archipelagos of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and concluded with the settlement of New Zealand around 700 BP. Following the process of colonisation, ancestral Polynesian cultural attributes came to express variations unique to each island group.

In New Zealand the development of a uniquely Maori culture occurred over a five hundred year period until truncated by European contact. Culture change within this period has been modeled using a two distinct phases, an early and a late. The catalysts for the transition from one phase to the next have consistently been identified as external factors, including adaptation to a subtropical/temperate environment, population replacement and resource depression. In each case, change was considered the result of a single process, with little consideration given to internal factors such as population fluctuations and transmission. My research addresses questions of continuity and change by examining the archaeological record of New Zealand from the perspective of ‘descent with modification’. In particular, quantitative analysis of adzes and fishhooks will be used to understand change through time and geographic diversity of artefacts

Funding organisation

  • UCL Overseas Research Scholarship


 Educational background

  • MA (Distinction) - University of Otago
  • BA Hons - University of Otago

Brown, A. 2011. Material Culture Traditions of Southern New Zealand. University of Otago, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology Seminar Series.

Brown, A. 2011. Variationin the fish-hook tradition of prehistoric Murihiku: mapping the trajectory of change. New Zealand Archaeological Association conference, Havelock North, New Zealand

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