Hinterlands, Heartlands and History: dynamic landscapes in New Zealand archaeology


  • Karen Greig University of Otago, Southern Pacific Archaeological Research (SPAR)
  • Richard Walter University of Otago, Archaeology and Southern Pacific Archaeological Research (SPAR)


Core-periphery models have been widely used in archaeology. The core implies centrality and richness; the periphery encompasses ideas of distance, disconnection, marginality, and challenge. The approach is most useful in urban studies but less appropriate in societies with less well defined social and economic hierarchies, and few technological or economic dissimilarities such as pre-contact Aotearoa. In this study we explore the usefulness of the concept of hinterland to understand Aotearoa history and show how trajectories of change occurred across the entire social landscape. High mobility, low population density and extreme environmental and climatic diversity shaped circumstances where heartland-hinterland dichotomies were fluid and easily subverted. Working at different scales, we show how places transitioned across the heartland-hinterland continuum in response to socio-cultural, historical, economic and environmental processes. In New Zealand heartland-hinterland relationships were temporally dynamic and contingent rather than emerging from fixed principles of geographic resource distribution and accessibility. This is usefully modelled as raindrops on a pond.

Additional Files



How to Cite

Greig, K. and Walter, R. (2020) “Hinterlands, Heartlands and History: dynamic landscapes in New Zealand archaeology”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 11(1), pp. 53–60. Available at: https://pacificarchaeology.org/index.php/journal/article/view/292 (Accessed: 21 July 2024).



Special Issue Articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)