This artefact could represent the only Lapita artefact found in New Zealand.

Unique Lapita artefact

The history of migration and colonisation of the pacific has been at times quite contentious; however, there is some agreement of a generally acceptable chronology. At least 40,000 years ago migration from south East Asia spread through what is known as the ‘inter-visible islands’ through New Guinea and into the Solomon island chains. The migration appears to have halted as significantly larger bodies of water separated the islands. Some 36,000 years later, a fresh migration occurred branching out into the far pacific, reaching Tonga and Samoa. These new migrants were the Lapita, the common ancestor of all Polynesians, Micronesians and Austronesian-speaking Melanesians. This extensive migration includes the far Islands of Fiji, Hawaii and New Zealand.

The Western Bay of Plenty museum is in possession of an artefact, which is part of the Middlebrook collection that possesses unique characteristics that would suggest that it was not of Maori origin.

The artefact was found on Waihi beach in the late 1930’s, at the time it was hypothesised that it may be of Lapita origin. If this hypothesis is shown to be correct, this artefact could represent the only Lapita artefact found in New Zealand.

I am currently undertaking the task of verifying the origin of this artefact and have reached out to a number of colleagues to aid me in this investigation. I will be sure to post updates of this ongoing investigation

Tim Searancke BA. Anthropology.