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British researchers to document endangered heritage sites in Cook Islands and Niue

Updated: Feb 23, 2023



By Pacific Island Times News Staff


A team of researchers from London will visit the Cook Islands and Niue this year to begin their work on documenting the endangered cultural heritage sites on these islands.


“This is also a key moment for recording different areas of heritage in the Cook Islands due to 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 educational institutions,” said Prof. Colin Richards of the University of the Highlands and Islands.


The research project is funded by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.


The research team will visit the Cook Islands and Niue in May and June to undertake an 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.


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According to a press release from Bournemouth University in London, 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.


“It is an honor 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,” said Prof. Kate Welham of Bournemouth University.


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Prof. Jane Downes, also of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said the Arcadia grant will help the team identify the best techniques to identify and record these important sites and monuments before they are lost altogether.


Lawrence Shaw of Forestry England said the funding will allow the team to use 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.




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