The UHI Archaeology Institute is one of the partners in a new research project to assess methods to document endangered cultural heritage sites in the Cook Islands and Niue.
The project has received funding from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin – which will support researchers visiting the Cook Islands and Niue in May and June.
There, they will undertake assessment and documentation of key cultural heritage and work with the islands’ communities to ensure the preservation of important information about these sites for the future.
The team will also work with multiple project partners in museums, local and national government and colleagues at the University of the South Pacific on the documentation and assessment work.
The visit will enable the trialling and assessment of remote-sensing techniques, including the use of three-dimensional mapping, drones and satellite imagery, that will be used to identify and map sites and monuments that are part of the rich cultural heritage of both countries.
Professor Kate Welham, of Bournemouth University, said: “It is an honour to be able to work on a project that will help to document cultural heritage in these locations in the Pacific Islands.
“The sites are fascinating to understand, and we want to ensure that the records we produce of them, and the stories they tell, are preserved for generations to come. We are grateful to the Arcadia Foundation for their support.”
Professor Jane Downes, director of the UHI Archaeology Institute, added: “This generous support from Arcadia will help us identify the best techniques to identify and record these important sites and monuments before they are lost altogether.”
Professor Colin Richards, also of the UHI Archaeology Institute, said: “This is also a key moment for recording different areas of heritage in the Cook Islands due a combination of threats ranging from climate change to commercial development. We are very much looking forward to working productively with Government, local communities and education institutions.”
The initial field visit will support the aim of the longer-term project in producing an open access database of the under-threat cultural heritage in Niue and the Cook Islands.
The project team is made up of:
- Professor Kate Welham, Bournemouth University.
- Professor Jane Downes, UHI Archaeology Institute.
- Professor Colin Richards, UHI Archaeology Institute.
- Lawrence Shaw, Forestry England.
- Dr Andrew Brown, Horizon Archaeology, New Zealand.
- Francisco Torres-Hochstetter, Mankuk Consulting and Services, Chile.