Tumai

Tumai Station Road, Tumai, Waikouaiti

  • Tumai.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 5701 Date Entered 11th March 1985

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Extent of List Entry

The registration includes Lot 1 DP 8602, Otago Land District (comprised in CT OT398/220) and archaeological site J43/4 as shown on the extent of registration map in Appendix 4 of the Upgrade Report of 12 March 2007.

City/District Council

Dunedin City

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 8602 (CT OT398/220), Otago Land District

Location description

South side of Pleasant River Mouth [access via Tumai Station Road].

Summaryopen/close

Tumai (New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Record Number J43/4) is a midden ('refuse heap') site, which has significance as part of a wider archaeological landscape of early Maori occupation in southern New Zealand, particularly within the east Otago region.

The site is located on the southern side of the Pleasant River estuary near the locality of Tumai in east Otago, opposite the better-known site of Pleasant River Mouth (New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Record No's J43/1 and J43/25) to the north. It is positioned at the mouth of a small coastal gully overlooking the sea, and a rocky boulder beach fronts the site. Tumai [ditto] has eroded considerably since its initial discovery by archaeologists in the early 1960s, but archaeological deposits are still visible today.

An archaeological excavation of Tumai in 1976 revealed that it was a small settlement, and was likely to have been intermittently occupied by Maori. Radiocarbon dates from the site have proven unreliable, but the archaeological assemblage may indicate a later Archaic occupation (c 14th - 15th centuries A.D). Fish bone appears extensively within the excavated assemblage, whilst moa and seal remains are only represented in lower numbers. Shells from both the rocky seashore and estuarine environments are present, including Cooks turban, mussels, mud snails and pipi. Artefacts recovered from the site include stone flakes (obsidian, schist, chalcedony, nephrite and silcrete) and fishhooks, which support the interpretation of Tumai as a locale for fishing activities.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This place was assessed for its archaeological, cultural and traditional significance or value

Archaeological Significance or Value

Archaeological investigation of Tumai has assisted in our understanding of the nature of early Maori settlement in southern New Zealand, particularly within the east Otago region. It reflects the mobility of early Maori between specialised sites like Tumai, where fishing played a dominant role, to more permanent villages such as the nearby site of Shag River Mouth.

Cultural and Traditional Significance or Value

Tumai is of significance to Kati Huirapi ki Puketerangi (a runaka of Kai Tahu) who exercise manawhenua of the area south of the Shag (Waihemo) River. It is one of many archaeological sites that reflect the ancestral Maori occupation of this landscape.

This place was assigned a Category II status having regard to the following criteria: a, c, d, i, k

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

Tumai reflects an important period in New Zealand history - the early Maori settlement of southern New Zealand and the discovery and utilisation of New Zealand's resources, such as moa, seal and a range of stone sources for tool production.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

Archaeological investigation of Tumai has contributed to our knowledge of early Maori occupation in southern New Zealand, particularly in relation to settlement patterns. Additional research such as the extraction of new samples for radiocarbon dating may further assist in our understanding of this site, and the nature of early Maori settlement within the east Otago region.

(d) The importance of the place to tangata whenua:

Tumai is of cultural, traditional and spiritual significance to Kai Tahu, in particular Kati Huirapa ki Puketeraki, as it provides a tangible link between the past and present. Tumai [ditto] is just one of many recorded archaeological sites in east Otago that demonstrates the importance of this landscape to early Maori.

(i) The importance of the identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:

Archaeological evidence such as the presence of moa bone indicates that Tumai was occupied during the Archaic phase of New Zealand's initial settlement, but additional radiocarbon dating is required to more accurately ascertain the approximate date of the site.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

Tumai is one of ten archaeological sites recorded in the immediate vicinity of the Pleasant River estuary, and forms part of a much wider archaeological and cultural landscape reflecting early Maori settlement in east Otago. This landscape incorporates sites such as Pleasant River Mouth on the north side of the estuary, Shag River Mouth and the Waitaki River Mouth to the north, and Warrington and Papatowai to the south.

In summary Tumai has been assigned Category II status on the basis of its archaeological, cultural and traditional significance. Tumai has significance as part of the archaeological landscape of early Maori occupation in southern New Zealand, and is of cultural and traditional value to Kati Huirapa ki Puketeraki.

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Physical Description

Tumai is located on the south side of the Pleasant River estuary, at the mouth of a small coastal gully overlooking the sea, with a rocky boulder beach fronting the site.

A stream once ran down the gully dividing the site into north and south, but has subsequently dried up. Archaeological evidence observed during a recent NZHPT site visit (November 2005) consisted of a band of cultural material (charcoal-blackened soil and midden) visible in the eroding bank (see Appendix 4, Figure 2 of the Upgrade Report, 12 March 2007).

In the gully above, an area of windblown sand extended back from the fence line for a distance of approximately 12 metres, and cultural material was also identified within this deposit, including an oven stone and tentatively identified stone flakes. A silcrete adze flake was noted on the beach below (see Appendix 4, Figure 4 of the Upgrade Report, 12 March 2007).

Construction Dates

Public NZAA Number

J43/4

Completion Date

12th March 2007

Report Written By

Joanna Wylie

Information Sources

Allingham, 1977

Brian Allingham, 'Archaeological Investigations Exercised at the Mouth of the Pleasant River, North Otago from 20/11/76 to 28/12/76'. Preliminary Report to the NZ Historic Places Trust, 1977.

Smith, 1985

Alan Smith, 'Sea Mammal Hunting and Prehistoric Subsistence in New Zealand', Unpublished PhD Thesis, Anthropology, University of Otago, 1985.

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report (12 March 2007) is available from the National Office of the NZHPT.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.