Dilys Amanda Johns

FIIC London, ICCROM Rome, CCI Ottawa, NZCCM

Profile Image
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 and Muriwai.

In press. Dilys Johns with Manawhenua ki Mohua and Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou.   Conserving 14th and 15th century canoes in satellite treatment facilities in Aotearoa, New Zealand - ‘Getting by’ down under. Proceedings of the International Council of Museums, Committee for Conservation, Wet Organic Archaeological Materials conference, Florence, Italy. May 2016.

Recent media coverage of conservation projects:

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

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 where 70 papers and 25 posters were presented over 5 days.

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
  • 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. A. (2016). Interpreting 14th -15th century Maori canoes. Paper presented at James Jenkins Biennial lecture 2016, Tahuna Beach Conference Centre, Nelson, New Zealand. 15 September - 15 September 2016.
  • Johns, D. A., Irwin, G. J., & Sung, Y. K. (2014). An early sophisticated East Polynesian voyaging canoe discovered on New Zealand’s coast. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 111 (41), 14728-14733. 10.1073/pnas.1408491111
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/23286
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Geoffrey Irwin
  • Johns, D. A. (2013). Post-Excavation Treatment Methods for Waterlogged Organic Archaeological Materials: The last 20 years. In F. Menotti, O'Sullivan A (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Wetland Archaeology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199573493.013.0040
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/23349
  • Johns, D. A., Hodgins, G., Gilberg, M., Rageth, J., & O'Connor S (2010). Conservation of pre-European wet organic archaeological materials in Aotearoa New Zealand. de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. 1 February 2010. DVD of seminars presentet at Symposium on Scientific Testing of Art and Textiles.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/17160

Contact details

Alternative contact

021 206 4209

Primary location

Level 1, Room 100
New Zealand