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An isotopic and genetic study of multi-cultural colonial New Zealand

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Roberts,  Patrick
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Zech,  Jana
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

King, C. L., Buckley, H. R., Petchey, P., Roberts, P., Zech, J., Kinaston, R., et al. (2021). An isotopic and genetic study of multi-cultural colonial New Zealand. Journal of Archaeological Science, 128: 105337. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2021.105337.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-FFBD-6
Abstract
In the mid-late nineteenth century thousands flocked to the newly-established British colony of New Zealand in the hope of improving their fortunes and forging a better life. While historical records give us an overview of where these people came from, in many cases the individual stories of the people who make up early colonial society have been lost. In this study we use isotopic analysis (87Sr/86Sr, lead isotopes and δ18O) and ancient DNA (aDNA) to look at three cemetery populations from early colonial Otago (South Island, New Zealand). One from an organised agricultural settlement, the other two from the Otago goldfields – associated with the early goldrush, and the later influx of Chinese miners to the area. Overall, we assessed individual origins of the people in these cemetery samples, with the aim of better understanding who came to colonial Otago, and how this relates to modern perceptions of Pākehā (non-Māori) identity in New Zealand. Our findings show that many of the individuals presumed to be Chinese from material culture are isotopically distinct, and have Asian derived maternal ancestry, laying the foundation for future work on unidentified historic remains. However, some individuals are associated with seemingly conflicting isotopic and DNA data which hints at the complexity of individual construction of identity in a colonial context.