Ngā Tohuwhenua Mai Te Rangi: A New Zealand Archeology in Aerial Photographs
Taranaki is well within the climatic bounds suited to Polynesian root crops; the region also has a high rainfall and less risk of late-summer droughts than east coast localities. Evidence of pre-European horticulture is, not surprisingly, one of the outstanding elements of the landscape and, as in the Waikato, provides a good link with the traditional accounts of Turi and the introduction of kūmara. Apart from the storage pits on virtually every site, there is other very clear landscape evidence of actual gardening practice, for example, borrow-pits. The use of borrow-pits, for gravels to be added to the soil, is similar to their use in the Waikato.
A massive pā built on a ridge above the Pātea River near Otautu, 7 km from the coast
Viewed from the south, the association with the river valley is clear. The pā is about 250 m long with a defensive perimeter of about 600 m. The massive double ditches and banks on all the obvious entry points and between the platforms show clearly. Further ditches and banks defend the head of the steep scarp to the valley floor. On the narrow ridge are massive storage pits, removed from the areas of habitation and taking advantage of the drainage. The white dots are sheep.
Te Puia, a pā on the coastal terrace near the mouth of the Mōkau River
The Mōkau River runs into the sea at bottom left. The point immediately above the river mouth and seaward of the road has been lived on, but its landward defences were prone to attack. It was not suitable for a pā, but was an undefended village, named Kautu. Nearest the camera viewpoint on the coastal cliff, the Waipapa Stream, cutting through the terrace, formed a gully and a point in the terrace. There, a pā, Te Puia, was created by the construction of a large ditch and bank. About 100 m from the narrow point is a second, outer ditch and bank about 90 m long (centre bottom, above the cliff). This pā was the scene of fighting in the 1830s between Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Toa under Te Rauparaha. At top left in the estuary is the island Motu Tawa, scene of further fighting in the 1830s.
Settlement and horticulture on high terraces near the Whenuakura River, south Taranaki
In this photograph, small-scale, nineteenth-century arable fields show against a background of earlier pre-European gardens. Sand has been taken from borrow-pits, showing as irregularly shaped holes up to 8 m across, right foreground. The sand would have been added to the heavier topsoils of the terrace to improve their physical qualities (tilth, warming), and possibly as a mulch amongst growing plants. The spreading of sand from the borrow-pits in irregular heaps shows clearly, near right. At the top of the terrace risers (about 3 m in height) are lines of eroded kūmara storage pits. Beyond them again, the well-drained and easily defended finger-shaped points of land on the edge of the terrace have been used for pre-European pit storage.
At left and centre, a number of low ridges show clearly in oblique light. They are not dissimilar to the downslope lines of pre-European garden boundaries, but these are normally seen only in stony soil. These ridges were in fact formed at the edges of ploughed fields: they are 'lands' or plough lynchets. In the middle foreground is a rectangular enclosure, probably formed by a ditch and bank fence. The view is to the south, and the stream in shade is an unnamed tributary north-west of the Whenuakura River.
At another point on the edge of the terrace, a pā has been built with many pits on its surface. The pā has been constructed by a simple ditch across the ridge with substantial artificial ditches and scarps around the terrace edge. The enclosed area is about 35 by 20 m. The dimples on the surface of the pā are probably collapsed rua while outside the pā, where space is not at a premium, there are a number of open rectangular pits. The distinct rectangular line to the right of the pā is probably stockwear along a former post and wire fence. The narrow ridge in the foreground has a substantial ditch and bank fence on its crest. The view is to the west.