Dilys Amanda Johns

MA (Hons 1) FIIC London, ICCROM Rome, CCI Ottawa, NZCCM

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Senior Research Fellow


Dilys Johns studied Archaeology at the University of Auckland, completing a thesis: Waterlogged Wood Conservation – an investigation of radiation-induced polymerisation of monomers in 1985.

Subsequently Dilys received a Department of Internal Affairs Cultural Conservation Advisory Council scholarship to study conservation science in Rome at the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation of Cultural Property and in Ottawa at the Canadian Conservation Institute.

Returning to New Zealand in 1987 Dilys established the National Wet Organic Archaeological Materials Conservation Laboratory at The University of Auckland. This purpose-built laboratory, a unique facility in NZ, specialises in the study and conservation of waterlogged ‘at risk’ taonga / artefacts and in situ preservation of wetland archaeological sites.

Dilys Johns has been involved with a variety of projects throughout New Zealand and the Pacific. She directs conservation at The University of Auckland laboratory and satellite conservation facilities in Southland, Otago, Wellington, Nelson, Waiuku, Muriwai and Rekohu (Chatham Islands).

Current off-site large scale conservation projects in New Zealand include:

Research | Current

  • Conservation of at-risk taonga
  • Sustainability of in situ preservation for wetland archaeological sites in New Zealand

Teaching | Current

ANTHRO 340 Heritage Conservation in Aotearoa

This course presents a cultural conservation overview focused on rationale and principles rather than treatment. Heritage Conservation in Aotearoa equips students with a cultural orientation to materials conservation where issues are examined through several contexts including anthropological studies and conservation science.


Fellow of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic works (London, United Kingdom)


Areas of expertise

Committees/Professional groups/Services

An Assistant Coordinator of the Wet Organic Archaeological Materials International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation (ICOM CC) Paris, France. In May we organized the 13th ICOM CC Wet Organic Archaeological Materials (WOAM) in Florence, Italy.

Founding member of New Zealand Conservators of Cultural Materials (NZCCM)

Member International Council of Museums New Zealand Aotearoa (Board member 2012 to 2014)

Member Wetland Archaeological Research Project (Exeter,U.K.)

Member of Heritage New Zealand - Pouhere Taonga

Member of New Zealand Archaeological Association


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Boswijk, G., & Johns, D. (2018). Assessing the potential to calendar date Māori waka (canoes) using dendrochronology. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 17, 442-448. 10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.11.030
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gretel Boswijk
  • Johns, D., ki Mohua, M., & o Ōtākou TR (2018). Conserving 14th and 15th century canoes in satellite treatment facilities in Aotearoa, New Zealand: ‘Getting by’ down under. In E. Williams, E. Hocker (Eds.) Proceedings of the 13th ICOM-CC Group on Wet Organic Archaeological Materials Conference, 125-133. Florence, Italy: ICOM.
  • Johns, D. A., Briden, S., Wesley, R., & Irwin, G. (2017). Understanding Aotearoa’s past through the recovery and conservation of a 15th century canoe and fibre work Papanui Inlet, Otago Peninsula. The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 4 (126), 469-494. 10.15286/jps.126.4.469-494
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Geoffrey Irwin
  • Boswijk, G., & Johns, D. A. (2017). Tree-ring analysis of kauri (Agathis australis) samples from a waka recovered from Muriwai Beach, Auckland. University of Auckland: School of Environment.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gretel Boswijk
  • Boswijk, G., & Johns, D. (2017). Tree-ring analysis of kauri (Agathis australis) samples from a waka recovered from Maioro Beach, Waikato River Delta, Waikato. University of Auckland: School of Environment.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gretel Boswijk
  • Johns, D. A. (2017). Conserving 14th to 19th century canoes in satellite facilities around Aotearoa, N.Z. Paper presented at Plankton Planet - An Epic Voyage through our chnaging seas, New Zealand Maritime Museum, Auckland. 6 July - 6 July 2017.
  • Johns, D. (2017). Recovery and conservation of a waterlogged waka and associated taonga from Papanui Inlet, Otago Peninsula. Otakou Marae, Otago Peninsula, Otago. 6 February - 6 February 2017.
  • Irwin, G., Johns, D., Flay, R. G. J., Munaro, F., Sung, Y., & Mackrell, T. A. (2017). A review of archaeological Maori canoes (waka) reveals changes in sailing technology and maritime communications in Aotearoa/New Zealand, AD 1300-1800. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 8 (2), 31-43.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Geoffrey Irwin, Richard Flay, Tim Mackrell

Contact details

Alternative contact

021 206 4209

Primary office location

Level 1, Room 100
New Zealand

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