Auckland Council proposed the refurbishment of Long Bay Restaurant at Long Bay Regional Park. Following extensive consultation with mana whenua and HNZPT, it was agreed that the entire footprint of the development would be cleared archaeologically to provide assurance that no further kōiwi would remain within the project area. This excavation has revealed significant information about the 15th century settlement of Tāmaki.
The six clearly separated midden layers allowed the site to be tightly dated, with occupation falling into a 50-60 year span between the mid-15th to late 15th century, AD 1430 – 1485. The first three Phases of occupation, Phases 1, 4, and 5, are marked by dense shell middens and firescoops. The later Phases contain significantly less dense midden, though still large quantities of fish and bird bone, and far fewer features. All phases of the fishbone were interpreted as evidence of fishing with baited hooks, supplemented by netting – notably several fishhooks were recovered from the excavation but no net gear such as floats or sinkers.
At The Long Bay Restaurant Site, firescoops, midden, and burials occur in proximity, meaning the site was likely used for two distinct purposes: food consumption and ceremonial interment of the dead. The site appears unsuitable for cultivation, but given that Long Bay was part of a wider local settlement system, gardening would have been carried out elsewhere and produce brought onto site.
Settlement expanded from favoured locations to the less favoured coastal environments at Long Bay around AD 1430, signalling the establishment of self-sufficient communities. This was followed by a change from Tūhua obsidian to Great Barrier obsidian around AD 1440-1465, signalling these communities were no longer reliant on long-distance trade relationships. Pā construction is thought to have begun in the late 15th century and represent an increase in conflict. However, there are no evidence of pā at the Long Bay restaurant site, and there are no signs of traumatic injury in Burial Phases 3 or 9, though some trauma is indicated in later Phase burials. Self-sufficient communities cease voyaging and become more inward looking, laying greater claim to their own resources. Social and political, though not necessarily economic, competition develops, and pā construction begins as a sign of this at the end of the 15th century as the local settlement pattern intensifies.