Midden/ Artefacts

Fletcher Bay Road, Port Jackson

  • Midden/ Artefacts.
    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 6201 Date Entered 4th April 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Sec 37 Blk I Colville Sd (Recreation Reserve, NZ Gazette 1981, p. 3733), South Auckland Land District and the archaeological site known as Midden/Artefacts (SO9/53) thereon (refer to Archaeological Site Land Title Form for further information).

City/District Council

Thames-Coromandel District


Waikato Region

Legal description

Sec 37 Blk I Colville SD (Recreation Reserve, NZ Gazette 1981, p. 3733), South Auckland Land District


Setting: Port Jackson is the only sizeable beach on the northern end of the Coromandel Peninsula. The site is at the eastern end of the beach, in sand dunes intersected and backed by a small stream and swamp and overlooked by a large pa on a headland. Behind the site is a long stream valley with evidence of cultivations.

Archaeological Features: The site has produced collections of Archaic artefacts and animal bones, including adzes, reel and whales’ teeth units, three pearl shell artefacts (two lures and a segment of a disc), five samples of moa and four other extinct birds. The site was originally recorded as a midden in a 10 by 40 metre 'blow-out' in the dunes, but disturbance and erosion in 1980 showed more than one hectare of archaeological remains, with in-situ layers extending under the remaining dunes to the west. ‘Caps’ of intact archaeological layers and ‘deflated’ material all over the site show different activity areas; cooking, shell and bone dumping, bone and stone artefact manufacture, burials. The dating of a surface-collected moa bone (P. Millener, pers. comm.) to the fifteenth century AD confirms the Archaic dating of the site from the artefacts.

Investigations and Significance: Excavations in 1981 to rescue the fast-eroding evidence of the site, also investigated the allegation that a pre-human fossil bone layer at the site could account for the presence of extinct bird bone. In-situ features included pebble house floors, hearths, ovens, post holes, and charred and cut moa bone in a hearth confirmed the primary association of the bone with human activity. Excavation of pre-human deposits in several areas found no evidence of a fossil bone layer. Large sample areas of the site were totally surface collected to obtain a comprehensive collection of bone, and six activity areas were excavated and the site interpreted as a single large settlement, rather than a series of small encampments.

Condition: It is subject to heavy erosion, due to devegetation by four wheel drive vehicles in 1980 and subsequent trampling by cattle and heavy storms. It urgently needs fencing and marram grass planting to protect the remaining archaeological site.

Assessment: The site is important because a) it is on Crown Land and not likely to be developed and is therefore one of the few Archaic middens of the Coromandel that can be protected; b) the state of present and future knowledge of the site makes the remaining portion significant; c) the formal remains area in contrast to other Archaic middens, particularly in the absence of sea birds; d) the presence of pearl shell artefacts could indicate contact with tropical Polynesia, and there may be other evidence of this in the site.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

5th May 1982

Report Written By

S. Bulmer

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

S. Bulmer, 'The archaic Maori settlement at Port Jackson, Coromandel Peninsula, 1981; D. Foley, 'Preliminary report on excavations at Port Jackson (N35-6/38), 1981.

Anderson, 1979

Atholl Anderson (ed.), Birds of a Feather, Oxford, 1979

J. Davidson, 'Archaic middens of the Coromandel region; a review, pp. 182-202

Other Information

Information in this report is from the citation prepared for the NZHPT Archaeology Committee at the time of the registration.

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.