The Great Mercury Island Archaeological Project is a partnership between the Anthropology Department of the University of Auckland and Auckland Museum. We are working in collaboration with Ngati Hei, and landowners Fay and Richwhite families.
Ngāti Hei is based at Wharekaho near Whitianga and include Ahuahu as part of their rohe. They are descendants of Hei, uncle of Tametekapua who commanded the Te Arawa canoe. Like many of the early people of the Hauraki region, Ngati Hei came into conflict with the expanding Matutuahu tribes in the 17th century and later. They were present when Captain James Cook arrived at Whitianga. In the 19th century they suffered when musket-carrying Ngapuhi war parties swept down from the north.
Learn more about Ngati Hei.
Fay and Richwhite families
Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite have owned the island since the late 1970s. Sir Michael Fay initiated the archaeological work on the island after a storm in 2009 caused severe erosion on Oneroa White’s Beach and exposed cultural material.
This website has been funded by the generosity of the C & L Gregory Trust.
Learn more about archaeology in New Zealand
The New Zealand Archaeological Association
The NZAA fosters research in New Zealand, and takes a lead role in advocacy for archaeological sites at regional and national level. NZAA hosts an annual conference around supporting research and management of New Zealand’s cultural heritage. The Archaeological Association also owns Archsite, the national database of archaeological sites.
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is a crown entity, New Zealand’s leading national historic heritage agency and guardian of Aotearoa New Zealand’s national heritage. Their work includes identifying our heritage places, seeking to ensure they survive for appreciation by current and future generations, and fostering that appreciation by recording and sharing their stories. The archaeological work is permitted by Heritage New Zealand under section 18 of the Historic Places Act 1993. Read the Historic Places Act for more on Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga’s statutory responsibilities.