Associate Professor Melinda S Allen


Profile Image
Associate Professor » Anthropology

Organisational units

Research | Current

Present research

Melinda’s research is in the area of human palaeoecology, including human-climate relations, human ecodynamics, construction of anthropogenic environments, and processes leading to social resilience. Her current research relates to long-term variation in traditional Polynesian marine fisheries, diets and health of prehistoric Pacific Islanders and their commensal animals, and colonisation processes in Polynesia.


Teaching | Current

Department: Department of Anthropology

Associate Professor of Archaeology




Availability in 2015


Coming of the Māori

Semester 1



Not offered in 2015


Human Palaeoecology

Semester 1 and 2 (full year)


Postgraduate supervision

Present graduate students

  • Seth Quintus (PhD) – Human ecodynamics of terrestrial food production on Ofu Island, Manu'a, American Samoa, University Doctoral Scholar (primary supervisor).
  • Sophie Miller (MA) - Bone histology (co-supervisor w/ J. Littleton, 2014)
  • Lisa McKendry (MA) - Archaelogical evidence for Maori fibre use (co-supervisor w/ Ethan Cochrane, 2014)

 Past graduate students (recent) PhDs

  • Jennifer Huebert (PhD) – The role of arboriculture in landscape domestication and agronomic development: A case study from the Marquesas Islands, East Polynesia; University Doctoral Scholar (primary supervisor, completed 2014).
  • Andrew McAlister (PhD) – Methodological issues in the geochemical characterisation and morphological analysis of stone tools: a case study from Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, East Polynesia. University Doctoral Scholar (completed 2011).
  • Jacqui A. Craig (PhD) – Stable isotope analysis of prehistoric human and commensal diets on Aitutaki, southern Cook Islands (co-supervisor Dr. Judith Littleton) (2009).

 Past graduate students (recent) MAs and BAHons

  • Laura Dawson (MA) - Marquesan pig husbandry: insights from dental calculus (2013)
  • Adam Hand (MA) - Maori and vegetation processes: wood charcoal analyses (2013)
  • Lisa McKendry (BAHons) - Durabillity and strength properties of traditional Maori fibers (2013)
  • Sophie Miller(BAHons )- Oral pathologies in southern Cook Island pigs (primar supervisor w/ Judith Littleton) (2013)
  • Sayali Sangamnerkar (BAHons) - Interaction and exchange in the Cook Islands: stone tool geochemistry on Aitutaki, (primary supervisor w/ P. Sheppard) (2013)
  • Laura Dawson (BAHons) – Dental calculus in Polynesian pigs: A pilot study (2012)
  • Adam Hand (BAHons) – Māori fuel use and vegetation histories on Great Mercury Island (1' supervisor with Rod Wallace) (2012)
  • Annie Stephens (BAHons) – History and function in Polynesian coral abraders (2012)
  • Rebecca Walley (BAHons) – Fish stressors, osteological indicators & bio-archaeological potentials (2012).
  • Alison Preston (MA) – Element choice, analytical bias and archaeofish interpretations: a case study from the Cook Islands. Faculty of Arts Scholarship.
  • Sarah Ricketts (BAHons), Stone use and sourcing in Northland, New Zealand (w/ R. Philipps) (2011).
  • Callan Ross-Sheppard (BAHons), Obsidian exchange and human interaction in the Bismarck Archipelago (primary supervisor w/ P. Sheppard) (2011).
  • Eleanor Strurrock (BAHons), Māori use of estuarine environments (2011).
  • Jennifer Huebert (MA) – The Reconstruction of past vegetation in the Anaho Valley, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands using archaeological wood charcoal (2009).
  • Tamara Mason (MA) – Shellfish analysis and Maori shellfish use at Opoutere, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand (2009).
  • Ella Ussher (MA) – Application of starch residue analysis within archaeological research in the Pacific (2009).
  • Hannah Cowie (MA) – Enamel hypoplasia in humans and their commensals: Identification of developmental stress in the Marquesas Islands (co-supervisor Dr Judith Littleton) (2009).
  • Andrea Crown (MA) – Settlement proxemics and late prehistoric residential organisation in Anaho Bay, Marquesas Islands (2009).
  • Ben Davies (MA) – Analysis of resource limitations and prehistoric settlement on Nihoa, Northwest Hawaiian Islands: An agent-based approach (2009).
  • Jen Huebert (PGDipArts dissertation) – Archaeobotanical investigation of wood charcoal from earth ovens in the Marquesas Islands (2008).
  • Victoria Wichman (MA) – Prehistoric Māori Fishing at Tauroa Point, Northland, New Zealand (2006).
  • Kelila Jaffee (MA) – Midden Deposition and Analysis: The Oropuriri Shell Assemblage (2005).
  • Andrew McAlister (MA) – Prehistoric Fishing at Fakaofo, Tokelau: A Case for Resource Depression on a Small Atoll (2002).
  • Leith MacDonald (MA) – Going bats: An archaeological investigation of Flying Fox usage in prehistoric Vanuatu (2002).
  • Alaric Nicholls (MA) – Fishing for Ancient DNA: The development and application of a molecular technique for species identification of archaeological serranid remains (2000).
  • Stuart Hawkins (MA) – Voyagers and fishermen: Early prehistoric fishing on Naigani Island, Fiji (2000).
  • Jonathon Welch (MA) – The prehistoric stone row and wall systems of New Zealand and related factors of climate and soil (2000).

Areas of expertise

Pacific prehistory, human palaeoecology, human-climate interactions, Polynesian marine fisheries and technologies.

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Editor, Journal of the Polynesian Society

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Allen, M. (2014). Short-Lived Plant Materials, Long-Lived Trees, and Polynesian 14C Dating: Considerations for 14C Sample Selection and Documentation. Radiocarbon, 56 (1).10.2458/56.16784
  • Allen, M. S. (2014). Marquesan colonisation chronologies and post-colonisation interaction: implicationsfor Hawaiian origins and the “Marquesan Homeland” hypothesis. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 5 (2), 1-17.
  • Allen, M. S. (2014). Variability is in the mesh-size of the sorter: Harataonga Beach and spatio-temporal patterning in northern Māori fisheries. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 5 (1), 21-38.
  • Allen, M. S., & Morrison, A. E. (2013). Modelling site formation dynamics: Geoarchaeological, chronometric and statistical approaches to a stratified rockshelter sequence, Polynesia. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (12), 4560-4575. 10.1016/j.jas.2013.06.008
  • Allen, M. S., & McAlister, A. (2013). Early Marquesan settlement and patterns of interaction: new insights from Hatiheu Valley, Nuku Hiva Island. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 4 (1), 90-109.
  • McAlister, A., Sheppard, P. J., & Allen, M. S. (2013). The identification of a Marquesan adze in the Cook Islands. Journal of the Polynesian Society, 122 (3), 257-273. 10.15286/jps.122.3.257-274
  • Allen, M. S., & Ussher, E. (2013). Starch analysis reveals prehistoric plant translocations and shell tool use, marquesas islands, polynesia. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (6), 2799-2812.
  • Allen, M. S. (2012). Molluscan foraging efficiency and patterns of mobility amongst foraging agriculturalists: a case study from northern New Zealand. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39 (2), 295-307. 10.1016/j.jas.2011.09.013

Contact details

Primary location

Level 7, Room 201E-723
Auckland 1010
New Zealand