In addition to our commercial consulting work, SPAR runs an active research programme in New Zealand and Pacific archaeology. We work within the research environment of the wider University and SPAR projects involve graduate students and research partners from a number of institutions from New Zealand and overseas. SPAR projects are funded from contestable sources, such as the Marsden Fund which currently funds two of our research programmes.
Recent discoveries in New Zealand archaeology have overturned long- held views about our past. New dating methods and finer environmental studies now show that Polynesian settlement of these islands occurred only around 1300 AD, not 800 AD as previously thought. This effectively removed 500 years or 50% of our prehistory and raised problems for archaeological interpretation. Most importantly... see more
New Zealand was the last major land mass to be colonised by pre-industrial humans. It was first settled around the end of the thirteenth century AD by canoe voyagers from tropical eastern Polynesia. These first people brought with them a distinctive suite of artefacts that included large, quadrangular adzes, ornaments in the form of imitation whale teeth... see more
Wairau Bar is considered by archaeologists to be one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. The site lies on the boulder bank at the mouth of the Opawa River and was brought to the attention of the scientific community by schoolboy Jim Eyles in the 1930s. Between the 1940s and 1964 a series of excavations took place there, many of which, unfortunately, had little scientific control. These excavations had three... see more
The prehistory of the West Coast of the South Island is one of the least well-known of any region of New Zealand. There have been fewer than a dozen excavations here and even fewer systematic site surveys. Southern Pacific Archaeological Research has an ongoing project investigating the prehistory of the West Coast and has carried out six excavations at three important sites in the northern part of the region. North to south these... see more