Ancient Māori village discovered in Gisborne

Bone and artefacts from the site.
Bone and artefacts from the site. Photo credit: University of Otago

Remains of an ancient Māori village has been discovered beneath the port in Gisborne.

Archaeologists from the University of Otago got permission to start digging after evidence of the 14th century settlement was found in 2016, during a redevelopment of the site.

Since then, they've uncovered stone and obsidian tools, fish hooks and bones belonging to moa and dogs.

"We don't know as much about the early occupation around this part of the coastline as we do in other parts of the country," said archaeology professor Richard Walter.

"There are not too many of these very early sites, and so this one is filling the gaps."

The first contact between Māori and James Cook happened on a nearby river.

The archaeologists have only scraped the surface of the buried village, telling 1 News they'll leave the rest for future generations to uncover.

"It's important to understand the site, but it's also important to leave part of the site for the future because there's all sorts of technologies in the future that might be able to tell us even more than we know now," said Prof Walter.

Once they're done analysing the artifacts, the University of Otago scientists will return them to the local iwi.

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