Applications of near-surface geophysics in the search for graves in Maori urupa
Thesis DisciplineEngineering Geology
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelBachelors with Honours
Degree NameBachelor of Science (Hons)
Maori urupa (burial grounds) are culturally significant sites that demand appropriate sensitivity and respect. Due to the loss of oral records some locations of the older graves are no longer known. Therefore, non-invasive, non-destructive, near-surface geophysical techniques have been applied at two urupa on Banks Peninsula in an attempt to delineate the position of the unmarked graves.
Prior knowledge that Maori graves are traditionally aligned facing east aided in survey design. The sites were surveyed using shallow electromagnetic (EM), magnetometer/gradiometer and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) techniques. There was some data processing carried out.
Geological factors and cultural noise (such as fences, trees and reinforced concrete) degraded the quality of some of the individual data sets. However, conducting a multi-parameter geophysical survey enabled the objectives to be achieved. It is believed that this method was successful in delineating the likely positions of the unmarked graves at Koukourarata and Wairewa. However, due to the sensitive nature of the site excavations to confirm geophysical findings are not appropriate.
There were clusters of graves identified in one area at Koukourarata. A further area of interest was highlighted as a possible locality for graves at this site. At Wairewa, anomalies were present in clear rows, indicating the probable positions of unmarked graves.