Kōrero: Anthropology and archaeology

Whārangi 1. Explorers and missionaries, 1769 to 1840

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Anthropology is the scientific study of humankind, including the comparative study of different cultures and human evolution. In the 19th century the term ethnology was often used for this. Archaeology is the study of human history and prehistory through the analysis of physical sites and material remains. While often carried out through excavation, archaeology may also include aerial photography, the observation of surface-visible sites (examination without digging) and the underwater examination of shipwrecks.

Tahitian anthropologist

Joseph Banks recorded Tahitian priest Tupaia, who travelled on James Cook’s first voyage to New Zealand, in discussion with learned Māori elders at Ūawa (Tolaga Bay): ‘Tupia ... askd them in the course of his conversation with them many questions; among the rest whether or no they realy eat men which he was very loth to believe; they answerd in the affirmative saying that they eat the bodys only of those of their enemies who were killd in war.’1

Early contacts

In the 18th century European thinkers were fascinated by the vast range of peoples encountered during the expansion of western trade and empires. On each of his three Pacific voyages, British explorer James Cook recorded detailed accounts of Māori and other peoples throughout the Pacific. The naturalists Joseph Banks, on Cook’s first voyage (1769–70), and Georg and Johann Forster, on the second (1772–75), also made careful notes on the Pacific peoples. The similarities of Māori to other Polynesians, along with the differences between Polynesians and Australian Aborigines, were clear.

French explorer Julien Crozet, who visited the Bay of Islands in 1772, also recorded valuable observations on local Māori. Crozet’s very negative views of Māori can be explained by the fact that his expedition leader Marc Joseph Marion du Fresne and 24 crew members were killed by local Māori. Fellow Frenchman Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville, a skilled linguist, made extensive notes on Māori language and culture when he visited in 1824, 1827 and 1840.

Missionaries, language and culture

The early-19th-century missionaries, while not dismissive of science, saw the relationships between the world’s peoples through a biblical frame. They generally regarded most Māori traditions as products of sinful paganism that should be abandoned for civilised Christian practices. Missionaries were, however, the first Pākehā who spent years living among Māori to record what they saw and heard. Some, including Elizabeth Colenso, Robert Maunsell and William Williams (editor of the first Māori dictionary), became highly accomplished linguists. William Colenso and Richard Taylor also produced valuable ethnographic accounts.

Kupu tāpiri
  1. Quoted in Anne Salmond, The trial of the cannibal dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas. London: Allen Lane, 2003, p. 125. Back
Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Peter Clayworth, 'Anthropology and archaeology - Explorers and missionaries, 1769 to 1840', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/anthropology-and-archaeology/page-1 (accessed 18 June 2024)

He kōrero nā Peter Clayworth, i tāngia i te 22 Oct 2014