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Professor Richard Walter

Richard Walter Contact

Room 2C18
Tel +64 3 479 8754
Email richard.walter@otago.ac.nz

Research interests

The archaeology of Aotearoa and the tropical Pacific; historical anthropology; the archaeology of culture contact; indigenous history and knowledge, material culture studies, the archaeology of exchange, and cultural heritage management.

I am a field archaeologist and I work in Aotearoa and the tropical Pacific with ongoing projects in the Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Aotearoa. In the Solomons my research has focussed on prehistoric colonisation including Lapita settlement, and the emergence of late-period Melanesian diversity. I co-directed a long-term project on the development of Solomon Island chiefdoms with an emphasis on the role of cult practices, headhunting and ritual violence in the growth of the Roviana Chiefdom. I am currently working on village-based cultural heritage management projects on Santa Isabel and the Arnavon Islands.

In Aotearoa my major work is in prehistoric colonisation, understanding the lifeways of the first Polynesian settlers as they adapted to the new lands, and on the emergence of the tribal chiefdoms of classical Maori society. The currently direct research and projects in the North and Islands with major funding from the Marsden Fund.

I am also a member of the Coastal People: Southern Skies collaboration that connects communities with world-leading, cross-discipline research to rebuild coastal ecosystems.
Coastal People: Southern Skies

I am a founder and director of Southern Pacific Archaeological Research (SPAR) which is a research unit within the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology that carries out pure, applied and commercial research in archaeology and heritage management throughout Aotearoa and the tropical Pacific. SPAR currently employs three full-time and two part-time staff in a research and consulting capacity.

Visit the SPAR website

Teaching

Projects

1. The Polynesian settlement of Aotearoa

I direct a long-term study of the Polynesian settlement of Aotearoa which has been funded by three Marsden grants over the last 10 years. During that time we have investigated colonisation phase sites across the North and South Islands, and have set out new models for colonisation and cultural change. Our most recent work has been based on excavations at the Wairau Bar site in Blenheim where we work with iwi and University based researchers to investigate the economy, material culture and biology of this enigmatic first-generation community.

2. Community based cultural heritage conservation in Melanesia

I am interested in the theoretical and practical problems of archaeological and heritage conservation in Melanesia. In the Solomon Islands I work in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) where I have developed cultural heritage conservation modules that integrate into TNC’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity programmes. The theoretical ideas underlying these programmes are discussed in Walter and Hamilton (2014), see also Hamilton et al. (2015). I am currently focusing on heritage conservation in Arnavon Islands (Solomon Islands) – a conservation region that includes a major turtle hatchery and a rich and vulnerable archaeological record.

3. Lawrence Chinese Camp Project

The Lawrence Chinese Camp was established during the Otago gold rush of the 1860s and was occupied by a Chinese community servicing the goldfields. By the 1870s the Camp had numerous stores, a hotel, boarding houses, physicians, a butchery, gambling facilities and opium dens. Since 2005 we have carried out four large, areal excavations on the site. The research at Lawrence aims at understanding the social history of this overseas-Chinese community living on the fringes of a developing province.

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Publications

Sabetian, A., Zhang, J., Campbell, M., Walter, R., Allen, H., Reid, M., Wijenayake, K., & Lilkendey, J. (2021). Fish nearshore habitat-use patterns as ecological indicators of nursery quality. Ecological Indicators, 131, 108225. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2021.108225

Campbell, M., Lilkendey, J., Reid, M., Walter, R., Wijenayake, K., Zhang, J., & Sabetian, A. (2021). Tracing changing life histories of tāmure (Chrysophrys auratus) in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand, through otolith chemistry. Archaeological & Anthropological Sciences, 13, 130. doi: 10.1007/s12520-021-01362-9

Radclyffe, C. J. T., Summerhayes, G. R., Scott, J. M., & Walter, R. (2021). Pottery production and exchange in the last millennium in the western Solomon Islands: A ceramic sequence for Choiseul. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 12(1), 25-46. Retrieved from https://pacificarchaeology.org/

McFadden, C., Walter, R., Buckley, H., & Oxenham, M. F. (2021). Temporal trends in the Colonisation of the Pacific: Palaeodemographic Insights. Journal of World Prehistory, 34, 47-73. doi: 10.1007/s10963-021-09152-w

McDonald, S. K., Matisoo-Smith, E. A., Buckley, H. R., Walter, R. K., Aung, H. L., Collins, C. J., Cook, G. M., Kardailsky, O., Krause, K., & Knapp, M. (2020). 'TB or not TB': The conundrum of pre-European contact tuberculosis in the Pacific. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 375, 20190583. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2019.0583

Walter, R., & Sheppard, P. (2017). Archaeology of the Solomon Islands. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press, 194p.

Authored Book - Research

Walter, R., & Green, R. C. (2011). Su'ena: Five hundred years of interaction in the Eastern Triangle, Solomon Islands [Studies in Prehistoric Anthropology 23]. Dunedin, NZ: University of Otago, 130p.

Authored Book - Research

Walter, R., Jacomb, C., & Brooks, E. (2010). Archaeological investigations at Omaio, Eastern Bay of Plenty [Memoir 10]. Whakatane, New Zealand: Whakatane & District Historical Society, 36p.

Authored Book - Research

Anson, D., Walter, R., & Green, R. C. (2005). A revised and redated event phase sequence for the Reber-Rakival Lapita site, Watom Island, East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. Dunedin, New Zealand: Anthropology Department, University of Otago.

Authored Book - Research

Walter, R., & Anderson, A. (2002). The Archaeology of Niue Island, West Polynesia, Bishop Museum Bulletin in Anthropology No 10. Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press, 167p.

Authored Book - Research

Walter, R., & Moeka'a, R. (2000). The Rarotongan Traditions of Te Ariki Tara Are. Polynesian Society Memoir No. 51. Auckland: The Polynesian Society, 202p.

Authored Book - Research

Walter, R. (1998). Anai'o: the Archaeology of a fourteenth century Polynesian community in the southern Cook Islands (New Zealand Archaeological Association Monograph No 22). Auckland: New Zealand Archaeological Association.

Authored Book - Research

Walter, R., & Reilly, M. (2018). Ngā Hekenga Waka: Migration and early settlement. In M. Reilly, S. Duncan, G. Leoni, L. Paterson, L. Carter, M. Rātima & P. Rewi (Eds.), Te Kōparapara: An introduction to the Māori world. (pp. 65-85). Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Greig, K., Walter, R., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2016). Dogs and people in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. In M. Oxenham & H. Buckley (Eds.), Routledge handbook of bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. (pp. 462-482). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P., Walter, R., Dickinson, W., Felgate, M., Ross-Sheppard, C., & Azémard, C. (2015). A Solomon sea interaction sphere? In C. Sand, S. Chiu & N. Hogg (Eds.), The Lapita cultural complex in time and space: Expansion routes, chronologies and typologies. (pp. 63-80). Nouvelle-Calédonie, Noumea: Institut d’archéologie de la Nouvelle-Calédonie et du Pacifique.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P. J., & Walter, R. (2014). Shell valuables and history in Roviana and Vella Lavella. In B. Burt & L. Bolton (Eds.), The things we value: Culture and history in Solomon Islands. (pp. 33-45). Canon Pyon, UK: Sean Kingston.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P., & Walter, R. (2013). Diversity and networked interdependence in the Western Solomons. In G. Summerhayes & H. Buckley (Eds.), Pacific Archaeology: Documenting the past 50,000 years: Papers from the 2011 Lapita Pacific Archaeology Conference. (pp. 138-147). Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P. J., & Walter, R. (2009). Inter-tidal late Lapita sites and geotonics in the western Solomon Islands. In P. J. Sheppard, T. Thomas & G. R. Summerhayes (Eds.), Lapita: Ancestors and descendants (New Zealand Archaeological Association Monograph 28). (pp. 73-100). Auckland, New Zealand: NZAA.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R., & Sheppard, P. (2009). A review of Solomon Island archaeology. In P. J. Sheppard, T. Thomas & G. R. Summerhayes (Eds.), Lapita: Ancestors and descendants (New Zealand Archaeological Association Monograph 28). (pp. 35-72). Auckland, New Zealand: NZAA.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P., & Walter, R. (2008). The sea is not land: Comments on the archaeology of islands in the western Solomons. In J. Connolly & M. Campbell (Eds.), Comparative Island Archaeologies. (pp. 167-178). Oxford: Archaeopress.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R., & Jacomb, C. (2008). New Zealand. In D. M. Pearsall (Ed.), Encyclopedia of archaeology (Vol. 3). (pp. 1738-1747). New York: Academic Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R., & Sheppard, P. (2006). Archaeology in Melanesia: A case study from the western province of the Solomon Islands. In I. Lilley (Ed.), Archaeology of oceania: Australia and the Pacific Islands. (pp. 137-159). Maden, MA: Blackwell.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P., Walter, R., & Aswani, S. (2004). Oral tradition and the creation of late prehistory in Roviana Lagoon, Soloman Islands. In Records of the Australian Museum: Supplement 29. (pp. 123-132). Australia: Australian Museum.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R. (2004). Anaio. In Il Mondo dell'Archeologia: Americhe e Oceania. (pp. 911-913). Roma: Instituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R. (2004). Cook, Isole. In Il Mondo dell'Archeologia: Americhe e Oceania. (pp. 893-894). Roma: Instituto della Enciclopedia Italiana.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R. (2004). New Zealand archaeology and its Polynesian connections. In L. Furey & S. Holdaway (Eds.), Change through time: 50 years of New Zealand archaeology. (pp. 125-146). Auckland: New Zealand Archaeological Association.

Chapter in Book - Research

Anderson, A., & Walter, R. (2002). Landscape and culture change on Niue Island West Polynesia. In T. Ladefoged & M. Graves (Eds.), Pacific Landscapes: Archaeological Approaches. (pp. 153-172). Honolulu: Easter Island Foundation, Bearsville Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P. J., Anderson, A., & Walter, R. (2002). Geochemical analysis and sourcing of archaeological stone from Niue. In R. Walter & A. Anderson (Eds.), The Archaeology of Niue Island, West Polynesia. Bishop Museum Bulletin in Anthropology No. 10. (pp. 161-164). Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P. J., Aswani, S., Walter, R., & Nagaoka, T. (2002). Cultural sediment: The nature of a cultural landscape in Rovian Lagoon, New Georgia, Solomon Islands. In T. N. Ladefoged & M. W. Graves (Eds.), Pacific Landscapes: Archaeological Approaches. (pp. 35-61). California: Easter Island Foundation: Bearsville Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Worthy, T., Anderson, A., & Walter, R. (2002). Fossil fauna from Niue island. In R. Walter & A. Anderson (Eds.), the Archaeology of Niue Island, West Polynesia. Bishop Museum Bulletin in Anthropology No. 10. (pp. 165-167). Honolulu: Bishop Museum Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R., & Anderson, A. (2001). Fishbone from the Emily Bay settlement site, Norfolk Island. In A. Anderson & P. White (Eds.), The Prehistoric Archaeology of Norfolk Island, Southwest Pacific (Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 27). (pp. 101-108). Sydney: Australian Museum.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R., & Sheppard, P. J. (2001). Cook Island basalt sourcing: Current issues and directions. In M. Jones & P. J. Sheppard (Eds.), Australasian Connections and New Directions: Proceedings of the 7th Australasian Archaeometry Conference (Research in Anthropology and Linguistics No. 5). (pp. 383-397). Auckland: Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R., & Campbell, M. (1999). Prehistoric marine adaptation on a windward, raised reef island, Mitiaro, Southern Cook Islands. In K. Katayama & N. Shibota (Eds.), Prehistoric Cook Islands: People, Life and Language. (pp. 135-148). Rarotonga, Cook Islands: Cook Islands Library and Museum Society.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P. J., Felgate, M., Roga, K., Keopo, J., & Walter, R. (1998). A ceramic sequence from Roviana Lagoon, (New Georgia, Solomon Islands). In J. C. Galipaud & I. Lilley (Eds.), Le Pacifique de 5000 a 2000 avant le present. Supplements a l'histoire d'une colonisation (new edn). (pp. 313-322). Noumea: ORSTOM.

Chapter in Book - Research

Sheppard, P. J., Walter, R., & Parker, R. (1997). Basalt Sourcing and the Development of Cook Island Exchange Systems. In M. I. Weisler (Ed.), Prehistoric Long-Distance Interaction in Oceania: An Interdisciplinary Approach. New Zealand Archaeological Association Monograph 21. (pp. 85-110). Auckland: New Zealand Archaeological Association.

Chapter in Book - Research

Walter, R. (1996). What is the East Polynesian 'Archaic'?: a view from the Cook Islands. In J. M. Davidson, G. Irwin, B. F. Leach, A. Pawley & D. Brown eds (Eds.), Oceanic Culture History: Essays in Honour of Roger Green. (pp. 224-242). Wellington: New Zealand ARchaeological Association.

Chapter in Book - Research

Jacomb, C., Walter, R., Easdale, S., Johns, D., O'Connell, D., Witter, D., & Witter, A. (2004). A 15th century Māori textile fragment from Kaiorete Spit, Canterbury, and the evolution of Māori weaving. In Journal of the Polynesian Society. (3 ed.) (pp. 291-296). JPS.

Chapter in Book - Other

Campbell, M., Lilkendey, J., Reid, M., Walter, R., Wijenayake, K., Zhang, J., & Sabetian, A. (2021). Tracing changing life histories of tāmure (Chrysophrys auratus) in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand, through otolith chemistry. Archaeological & Anthropological Sciences, 13, 130. doi: 10.1007/s12520-021-01362-9

Journal - Research Article

McFadden, C., Walter, R., Buckley, H., & Oxenham, M. F. (2021). Temporal trends in the Colonisation of the Pacific: Palaeodemographic Insights. Journal of World Prehistory, 34, 47-73. doi: 10.1007/s10963-021-09152-w

Journal - Research Article

Radclyffe, C. J. T., Summerhayes, G. R., Scott, J. M., & Walter, R. (2021). Pottery production and exchange in the last millennium in the western Solomon Islands: A ceramic sequence for Choiseul. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 12(1), 25-46. Retrieved from https://pacificarchaeology.org/

Journal - Research Article

Sabetian, A., Zhang, J., Campbell, M., Walter, R., Allen, H., Reid, M., Wijenayake, K., & Lilkendey, J. (2021). Fish nearshore habitat-use patterns as ecological indicators of nursery quality. Ecological Indicators, 131, 108225. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2021.108225

Journal - Research Article

Greig, K., & Walter, R. (2020). Hinterlands, heartlands and history: Dynamic landscapes in New Zealand archaeology. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 11(1), 53-60.

Journal - Research Article

Wu, P., Walter, R., Gaffney, D., Gong, Y., Palin, M., & Reid, M. (2020). Identifying nineteenth century Trans-Pacific production and trade: A geochemical and stylistic study of Chinese opium pipe bowls from southern New Zealand. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 31, 102362. doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102362

Journal - Research Article

Radclyffe, C. J. T., Summerhayes, G., & Walter, R. (2019). Discovery of Talasea obsidian in a post-Lapita deposit in Arnavon Islands, Solomon Islands. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 10(2), 73-79.

Journal - Research Article

Robinson, J., Blanshard, A., Clendon, M. T. N., Maxwell, J., Sutton, N., & Walter, R. (2019). Mangahawea Bay revisited: A reconsideration of the stratigraphy and chronology of site Q05/682, Moturua Island, Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 10(1), 45-55.

Journal - Research Article

Greig, K., Boocock, J., Allen, M. S., Matisoo-Smith, E., & Walter, R. (2018). Ancient DNA evidence for the introduction and dispersal of dogs (Canis familiaris) in New Zealand. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 9(1), 1-10.

Journal - Research Article

Greig, K., Gosling, A., Collins, C. J., Boocock, J., McDonald, K., Addison, D. J., … Higham, C. F. W., … Walter, R., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2018). Complex history of dog (Canis familiaris) origins and translocations in the Pacific revealed by ancient mitogenomes. Scientific Reports, 8, 9130. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-27363-8

Journal - Research Article

Hilton, M., Walter, R., Greig, K., & Konlechner, T. (2018). Burial, erosion, and transformation of archaeological landscapes: Case studies from southern New Zealand (Aotearoa). Progress in Physical Geography, 42(5), 607-627. doi: 10.1177/0309133318795844

Journal - Research Article

Jennings, C., Weisler, M., & Walter, R. (2018). Colyers Island: Polynesia's southernmost adze manufacturing complex. Archaeology in Oceania, 53(2), 116-127. doi: 10.1002/arco.5151

Journal - Research Article

Seersholm, F. V., Cole, T. L., Grealy, A., Rawlence, N. J., Greig, K., Knapp, M., … Easton, L. J., … Walter, R., & Bunce, M. (2018). Subsistence practices, past biodiversity, and anthropogenic impacts revealed by New Zealand-wide ancient DNA survey. PNAS, 115(30), 7771-7776. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1803573115

Journal - Research Article

Walter, R., Brooks, E., Greig, K., & Hurford, J. (2018). Excavations at Kahukura, Murihiku. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 9(2), 59-82.

Journal - Research Article

Harris, T. E., Lilley, K. A., & Walter, R. K. (2017). The varying role of vertebrae in Pacific fishbone analysis: Comparing tropical versus temperate midden assemblages. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 27, 1038-1047. doi: 10.1002/oa.2628

Journal - Research Article

Walter, R., Buckley, H., Jacomb, C., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2017). Mass migration and the Polynesian settlement of New Zealand. Journal of World Prehistory, 30(4), 351-376. doi: 10.1007/s10963-017-9110-y

Journal - Research Article

Petchey, P., Buckley, H., Walter, R., Anson, D., & Kinaston, R. (2016). The 2008-2009 excavations at the SAC locality, Reber-Rakival Lapita Site, Watom Island, Papua New Guinea. Journal of Indo-Pacific Archaeology, 40, 12-31. doi: 10.7152/jipa.v40i0.14928

Journal - Research Article

Shipton, C., Weisler, M., Jacomb, C., Clarkson, C., & Walter, R. (2016). A morphometric reassessment of Roger Duff's Polynesian adze typology. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 6, 361-375. doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.03.005

Journal - Research Article

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