Variability is in the Mesh-size of the Sorter: Harataonga Beach and Spatio-temporal Patterning in Northern Māori Fisheries

  • Melinda S Allen University of Auckland
Keywords: Māori fishing, marine resources, New Zealand prehistory, screen size, zooarchaeology, Great Barrier Island

Abstract

Prehistoric Māori fisheries have been characterized as specialized and focused on a few medium-sized, shallow water carnivorous taxa of high biomass. Pagrus auratus (snapper) in particular is an abundant component of many northern North Island archaeofish assemblages. However, few northern collections derive from well dated, stratified sites and past field recovery techniques were often less than ideal. Assemblages from Harataonga Beach, Aotea Island (Great Barrier) are useful in this respect, representing both early and late prehistory, and deriving from two field studies made 40 years apart. The recent study, using 2 mm screens, recovered 78,848 fish bones of which 5941 represented 15 bony fish families, sharks and rays. Snapper (Pagrus auratus or Tamure) dominates the early assemblage (69%) but is poorly represented in late prehistory (<20%). Jack mackerel, blue mackerel, and leatherjacket dominate the late prehistoric assemblages and suggest netting in offshore areas. Along with a few other northern localities, the Harataonga results illustrate how sampling and coarse sieves (>3.2 mm) can significantly bias assemblage composition, diversity and structure. The re- gional assessment also suggests that while early Māori fishing practices may have been specialised relative to those of tropical East Polynesia, over time they became more generalised.
Published
2014-02-01
How to Cite
Allen, M. (2014) “Variability is in the Mesh-size of the Sorter: Harataonga Beach and Spatio-temporal Patterning in Northern Māori Fisheries”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 5(1), pp. 21-38. Available at: https://www.pacificarchaeology.org/index.php/journal/article/view/131 (Accessed: 18August2019).
Section
Articles