Bruce McFadgen

Bruce McFadgen profile picture photograph

Kairuruku/Research Associate
Te Kawa a Māui


PhD (Geology) Wgtn, MA(Hons) (Anthropology), Dip Surveying Otago, MNZIS, MRSNZ


Bruce McFadgen is a registered Land Surveyor, and an archaeologist with more than 45 years' field experience. He was a Staff Archaeologist with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust from 1979 to 1987. From 1987 he was a Scientist with the Department of Conservation, until the lure of a JD Stout Fellowship led to his early retirement in 2003. He served on the Skinner Research Fund Committee, Royal Society of NZ from 1987 to 2011, and was on the Advisory Board for the National Isotope Centre, GNS Science, from 2001 to 2004. He does part-time consulting work as an archaeologist, and is currently editor of the New Zealand Surveyor – Journal of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors.

Current research projects

  • Tsunami events in prehistoric New Zealand (with Prof James Goff, University of New South Wales, Sydney).
  • Radiocarbon date calibration and marine reservoir corrections (with GNS Science, Lower Hutt).
  • Geomagnetism as applied to archaeology (assisting Dr Gillian Turner, Victoria University of Wellington).
  • Tectonic activity on the southwest coast of the North Island, and its effect on prehistoric Māori communities.
  • The role of tectonic activity on the development of civilisation (with Prof Eric Force, University of Arizona, Tucson).

Current research interests

  • dating archaeological remains
  • archaeology and environment
  • tectonic activity and its effect on culture.

Achievements and awards

  • J.D. Stout Research Fellow, 2003
  • ILFORD Award to Aerial Archaeology, 1982
  • President of the New Zealand Archaeological Association, 1986-1988
  • President of the Wellington Branch, Royal Society of New Zealand, 1985-1987.

Selected publications

Force, E R and McFadgen, B G 2012. Influences of active tectonism on human development – a review and Neolithic example. In: P Clift (Ed). Climates, Landscapes and Civilisations. Geophysical Monograph Series, American Geophysical Union.

Goff, J R, McFadgen, B G, Chague-Goff, C, Nichol, S L 2012. Palaeotsunamis and their influence on Polynesian settlement. The Holocene, 22(9): 1067-1069.

Beavan, N R, Halcrow, S, McFadgen, B G, Hamilton, D, Buckley, B, Sokha, T, Shewan, L, Sokha, O, Fallon, S, Miksik, J, Armstrong, R, O’Reilly, D, Domett, K, and Chhem, K R 2012. Radiocarbon dates from Jar and Coffin Burials of the Cardamom Mountains reveal a unique mortuary ritual in Cambodia’s late- to post-Angkor period (15th to 17th centuries 2 AD). Radiocarbon, 54(1): 1-22.

Courtney, C, Dominey-Howes, D, Goff, J, Chague-Goff, C, Switzer, A D, McFadgen, B G 2012. A synthesis and review of the geological evidence for palaeotsunamis along the coast of southeast Australia: The evidence, issues and potential ways forward. Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 54: 99-125.

Force, E R and McFadgen, B G 2010. Tectonic environments of ancient civilisations: Opportunities for archaeoseismological and anthropological studies. In: Sintubin, M, Stewart, I S, Niemi, T M, and Altunel, E, eds., Ancient Earthquakes. Geological Society of America Special Paper 471, p. 21-28.

McFadgen, B G 2010. Archaeoseismology – A New Zealand Perspective. In: A Salute to the Captain – Celebrating the 100th Birthday of Emeritus Professor J B Mackie, 3 September 2010. Festschrift to J B Mackie, University of Otago School of Mines. pp.85-100.

McFadgen, B G 2007. Hostile Shores: Catastrophic Events in Prehistoric New Zealand and their Impact on Māori Coastal Communities. Auckland University Press, pp.300.

McFadgen, B G, and Goff, J R, 2007. Tsunamis in the New Zealand archaeological record. Sedimentary Geology, 200(3-4):263-274.

McFadgen, B G and Goff, J R 2005. An earth systems approach to understanding the tectonic and cultural landscapes of linked marine embayments: Avon-Heathcote Estuary (Ihutai) and Lake Ellesmere (Waihora), New Zealand. Journal of Quaternary Science 20(3):227-237.

McFadgen, B G 2003. Archaeology of the Wellington Conservancy: Wairarapa: a study in tectonic archaeology. Department of Conservation. 94pp.

McFadgen, B G 2003. Pre-European Archaeology of the Coast. In: Goff, J.R., Nichol, S., Rouse, H.L. (eds.). The coast of New Zealand: Te Tai o Aotearoa. Dunmore Press, pp.265-296.