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Tūhura Ahuahu - cultural and ecological stories from Great Mercury Island

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Image: Monique Taylor, Mercury Bay Area School.

Welcome to Tūhura Ahuahu - cultural and ecological stories from Great Mercury Island. This term 3 trip is supported by the Ministry of Education/Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga, Waikato Regional Council, and Mercury Bay Area School. The field trip is from 30 July to 1 August 2019. Enrol now.


Our understanding of the settlement of Aotearoa New Zealand is developing and becoming clearer as archaeological sites unveil their secrets. Nowhere is this more evident than on Ahuahu Great Mercury Island. Recent excavations are telling new stories of ancestors of modern Maori; their origins in Polynesia, their voyages, lives and lore.

In recent times Ahuahu has become a place of exciting new discoveries:

  • How did people from the tropics adapt to life in colder climates?
  • How could people create a sustainable living from a small island environment?
  • How did the island respond to a human presence and the plants and animals they brought with them?
  • How can we bring environments like Ahuahu back to what they used to be like?

On this field trip you will journey back in time to hear from descendants of early Māori, from archaeologists who will explain what they do in a dig, and from conservation workers restoring habitats and species.

As we acknowledge 250 years since the first onshore meetings between Māori and Europeans, exploring places such as Ahuahu Great Mercury Island will help us better understand our history and our country.

Introduction to Tūhura Ahuahu - cultural and ecological stories from Great Mercury Island from LEARNZ on Vimeo.


You will go to Mercury Bay, a place of historic significance for Aotearoa New Zealand. This was Captain James Cook's second landing of four on our soil during his first Pacific voyage in 1769. People had already settled there, so this is a special place that saw some of the earliest interactions between Māori and Europeans.

Your journey includes special permission to visit Ahuahu - Great Mercury Island, where a long-term ecological restoration project is bearing fruit. It has archaeological sites that are under examination by Ngāti Hei, Auckland University and Auckland Museum.

Field Trip Plan

    Monday 29 July

    Travel day: Join Andrew and the ambassadors as they travel from Kerikeri to Whitianga. During the journey, Andrew takes the chance to photograph and talk about some of the interesting features of the trip.

    Tuesday 30 July

    Day 1: Journey to Ahuahu Great Mercury Island and a first look at archaeology.
    • What do we need to think about before heading to a pest free island?
    • What is archaeology and how does it help us?

    Wednesday 31 July

    Day 2: Early Māori history through an archaeological lens | Ahuahu conservation.
    • What can archaeology tell us about early human habitation on Ahuahu?
    • How has human presence changed the ecology of Ahuahu Great Mercury Island?
    • What are some projects that are helping to restore the environment?

    Thursday 1 August

    Day 3: Conservation continued | Future perspectives
    • What are some of the goals for Ahuahu Great Mercury Island?
    • How have students incorporated Ahuahu into their curriculum?
    • How do we value a relationship between people and the land as we head into the future?

    What's New

    15 July 2019 Newsletter #2 has been sent to all enrolled teachers.

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