50 degrees south and discover
its hidden secrets
The story of Campbell Island is also the story of the Island’s human history from historical accounts and historic sites. We aim to search for evidence of pre-European contact; review existing sources of Campbell Island history, search for new historic sites and assess their status and future management requirements; document the history, scale, and impact of historic sealing and whaling.
No one is sure when the outlying islands of the New Zealand region were first occupied by people. Research has found up to 650 year old settlement sites of Maori origin on some other Subantarctic Island. Was Campbell Island also discovered much earlier than 1810? Archaeological investigation of coastal locations and rock shelters suited to human habitation may provide the answer and shed light on the limits of Polynesian voyaging.
The stories of sealers, whalers and farmers tell us of a turbulent and hard life that was carved out on the stormy shores of Campbell Island. For the first time ever in the history of Campbell Island this expedition will provide a qualified assessment of historic site importance – an urgent task now that scrub regrowth is overwhelming many sites.
A search for the location and remains of sealing camps can tell the history of sealing on this island and bring to life the sense of hardship and remoteness that will have been the lot for sealers in this wild and windy place.
Whaling stations at North West Bay and North East Harbour were the last shore whaling operations in New Zealand waters. The field archaeology of these stations will be examined to describe the period of change between historical 19th century technology and 20th
Century factory operations, and also unique whaling methods that were used at this unusually remote and southerly location.