Archives For Archaeology

Erosion damage at a Māori Rock Art site has given us the chance to help with a rare archaeological dig, uncovering some interesting finds hinting at life once lived there.

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Archaeologist, Sharleen (Shar) Briden writes about the recent discovery and recovery of a waka on the foreshore of the Papanui Inlet, Otago Peninsula.

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Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile DOC ranger Andrew Blanshard, based in the Bay of Islands.

At work

Some things I do in my job include… I’m an archaeologist, historic assets project manager, boat skipper/manager, rodent dog handler, as well as looking after GIS,  island biosecurity, rural fire and marine mammal disentanglement.

Andrew excavating at Marsden Cross.

Andrew in his hole, excavating at Marsden Cross

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by helping to protect our historic heritage so that it will still be there for the next generation to appreciate and learn from. I help to keep our islands and special places pest free so that our unique wildlife can flourish.

The best bit about my job is managing, protecting and promoting some of the country’s most significant historic and archaeological sites. Also, working with my rodent dog on offshore islands with only the birds for company and getting out on the beautiful waters of Pewhairangi (Bay of Islands).

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is…It’s hard to narrow down to one. They include seeing the Cape Brett Lighthouse with her new coat of paint; finding the remains of New Zealand’s first Government house at Okiato; helping excavate New Zealand’s first school at Marsden Cross; spending 12 days on Kapiti with my Rodent Dog ‘Tike’ and getting to know this wonderful Island a bit better.

Tike looking at orca from a boat.

My rodent dog ‘Tike’ getting a view of orca

On a personal note

If I could trade places with any other person for a week it would be a crewman on Captain Cook’s voyages. I would love to see what the Pacific looked like before European Influences.

My best ever holiday was a working holiday sailing to 80 degrees north above Svalbard (Norway).

Andrew after 6 weeks in the field in Mongolia.

Looking a bit grubby after 6 weeks in the field

In my spare time I am involved in ongoing archaeological projects in Mongolia and Colorado.

If I wasn’t working at DOC, I’d like to be floating around the Pacific on a boat or being a ski bum…

Before working at DOC I was an archaeologist, driving instructor, kitchen designer and salesman.

The excavation crew just after uncovering New Zealand's first Government House.

The excavation crew just after uncovering New Zealand’s first Government House

Deep and meaningful

My favourite quote is “Give out, don’t give up!”

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is You have two ears and one mouth therefore listen twice as much as you talk!! (a hard one for me!!)

Training for disentangling large marine mammals.

Learning how to disentangle large marine mammals.

In work and life I am motivated by sharing my passion for Aotearoa/New Zealand’s unique and varied history.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is before going on an OE, make sure you have seen the beauties of your own country! Once you realise how special it is, GET INVOLVED with one of the brilliant conservation focused community groups/projects that we are lucky enough to have in abundance.

Andrew in Colorado, USA.

In red rock canyon country: Paradox Valley, Colorado.

Question of the week…

What was your favourite childhood toy and do you still have it?

A little Snoopy stuffed toy, which yes, is still with me in the garage.

Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).

Today we profile Sharleen Briden, Technical Advisor (Historic), based in Otago.

Sharleen and Brian sure get into some tricky situations at times - kōiwi recovery, Huriawa Pā, Karitane

Sharleen and Brian sure get into some tricky situations at times-
kōiwi recovery, Huriawa Pā, Karitane

At work

What kind of things do you do in your role?

I advise on historic matters, archaeological excavation (including kōiwi – human bone – recovery), archaeological reporting, historic surveys and assessments, monitoring earthworks, and recording new sites into the New Zealand Archaeological Association database.

What is the best part about your job?

Survey work and recording, seeing people up skill, and having the opportunity to see such beautiful country.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Survey work and helping people up-skill.

Bendigo Bakehouse excavation with Matt Schmidt, Historic Places Trust.

Bendigo Bakehouse excavation with Matt Schmidt, Historic Places Trust

What led you to your role in DOC?

There are not too many jobs where I can dwell amongst bones until my heart’s content. Finding cultural material while I walked my dog along the beaches led me to study archaeology. I have a natural affinity for bones and geological stone sources.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Seeing historic work supported by areas.

Excavation at Pukekura Pā, Taiaroa Head, with Brian Allingham.

Excavation at Pukekura Pā, Taiaroa Head, with Brian Allingham

The rule of three…

Three loves:

  • Hakky
  • Scrimshaw
  • Food

Three pet peeves:

  • Bad drivers
  • Religion
  • Unfairness

Three foods:

  • Nice cheeses, particularly feta
  • Vogel’s bread
  • Humus

Three favourite places in New Zealand:

  • Rock and Pillar Range
  • Dunedin
  • Nevis valley

Favourite album, book:

  • Book – The Hunger Games (three volumes)
  • Music – Ladi 6
Te Atatu judo champ aged six.

Te Atatu judo champ aged six

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

Stand tall and be proud.

Who or what inspires you and why?

Jill Hamel at 80 still going strong protecting our historic heritage.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A professional soccer player.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

An archaeologist – I think I’m in the right role.

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Turn the lights off and save the moths.

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

Walk more often.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

A bird – they are just so graceful. I like them dead or alive and enjoy identifying their bones.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Be open minded.

Whittens Creek, Nevis – Loch Linnhe Tenure Review survey.

Whittens Creek, Nevis – Loch Linnhe Tenure Review survey