Dating the prehistoric Moriori settlement on Rekohu (Chatham Islands)

Exploring an anomoly in the settlement timing of East Polynesia

The broadly accepted date for the initial human settlement of Rekohu (Chatham Islands) by Moriori is AD1500: a striking 250 years later than New Zealand and other East Polynesian islands. Is this late settlement an anomaly given the dearth of evidence for prolonged inter-island voyaging post-discovery? Or is it merely a result of limited radiocarbon dating of robust sample materials?

This project aims to use radiocarbon dating of sediment records and museum materials to examine past vegetation and faunal changes to provide a new overview of the cultural and ecological changes associated with initial Moriori settlement. We hope to solve one of the last remaining puzzles in the timing and pattern of New Zealand prehistory and of the broader East Polynesian diaspora.

Key contact

Contact Janet Wilmshurst Janet Wilmshurst

Key collaborators

Atholl Anderson (Australian National University); Jamie Wood (University of Adelaide); Alan Cooper; Kat Holt (Massey University)


Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund