Funding has been received for a new research project which will assess methods to help document endangered cultural heritage sites on the Cook Islands and Niue.
The award, from Arcadia - a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, will support researchers in visiting the Cook Islands and Niue in May and June 2023 to undertake assessment and documentation of key cultural heritage, working with communities on the islands 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 governments and colleagues at the University of the South Pacific on the documentation and assessment work. The visit will enable the trialing and assessment of remote sensing techniques including the use of three-dimensional mapping as well as 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 of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) commented, “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 UHI, 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.”
Lawrence Shaw of Forestry England commented, “The funding from Arcadia will allow us to utilise developing technologies including drones and multi-spectral imaging to identify and map lost or previously unknown cultural heritage sites.”
The initial field visit will support the aim of the longer-term project in producing an open access database of the cultural heritage in Niue and the Cook Islands that is under significant threat from a variety of climate led threats.
The Project Team consists of: Prof. Kate Welham, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Bournemouth University; Prof. Jane Downes and Prof. Colin Richards, Archaeology Institute, Orkney College, University of the Highlands and Islands; Lawrence Shaw, Forestry England; Dr Andrew Brown, Horizon Archaeology, New Zealand; and Francisco Torres-Hochstetter, Mankuk Consulting and Services, Chile.