D.J. LOWE, R.M. NEWNHAM AND J.D. MCCRAW
This chapter is dedicated to the memory of Jeanette L. Gillespie, a respected colleague and student in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Waikato, who died after a short illness on 4 October 2000. Jeannette, a part-time assistant lecturer in this department, was working towards her Ph.D. on the volcanic histories of Mayor Island and White Island, which feature in this chapter, by documenting the tephra record preserved in marine cores in coastal Bay of Plenty. A meticulous and talented researcher and teacher, and a warm and loyal friend, Jeanette is greatly missed.
There is much current interest in the impact of geohazards upon global cultural development. Such studies tend to rest upon broad assumptions as to scale of event and response, but before these can effectively be drawn, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the interaction of hazards upon cultures through time. This chapter addresses this issue by exploring the interaction of volcanic activity and Maori culture in New Zealand.
New Zealand is a mid-latitude, temperate, partly volcanic archipelago lying isolated in the South Pacific Ocean nearly 2,000 km eastward of its nearest neighbour, Australia. It is unique because it was the last substantial landmass to be settled by humans (Sutton, 1994a; Newnham et al., 1999a). A consequence of the exceptionally short prehistory is that the record of interactions between volcanic activity and people is brief. The earliest known European contact with the Polynesian (Maori) inhabitants of New Zealand was by Dutchman Abel Tasman in AD 1642 followed, after a 127-year gap, by Englishman James Cook and Frenchman Jean de Surville, who both arrived in AD 1769. New Zealand’s historical period is therefore restricted to barely the last two hundred years. The self-designated term ‘Maori’, literally ‘usual, ordinary’, came into use only after European settlement in the nineteenth century AD and is applied to the descendants of the Polynesians who first settled New Zealand.