Procurement and Cultural Distribution of Obsidian in Northern New Zealand

  • Phillip Moore Peninsula Research
Keywords: obsidian, sources, cultural distribution, procurement, New Zealand


This paper provides new insights into the prehistoric exploitation of obsidian in northern New Zealand. Most of the obsidian recovered from archaeological sites in this region originated from six or seven preferred sources (out of a total of 19). Cultural distributions can be delimited for the majority of these, and indicate that the primary use of raw material from some sources, where the local obsidian constitutes > 30–50 per cent of artefact assemblages, was restricted to relatively small areas. A significant proportion of the obsidian in these areas could have been procured by direct access, which may be reflected in a high percentage of artefacts with remnant cortex. Exploitation appears to have changed over time, from an early reliance on Mayor Island obsidian to greater use of alternative sources in the later period, pointing to the development of more complex distribution networks.
How to Cite
Moore, P. (2012) “Procurement and Cultural Distribution of Obsidian in Northern New Zealand”, Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 3(2), pp. 17-32. Available at: (Accessed: 14April2021).