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Childhood in Colonial Otago, New Zealand: Integrating Isotopic and Dental Evidence for Growth Disturbance and Oral Health

King, Charlotte L. and Kinaston, Rebecca L. and Snoddy, Anne Marie E. and Buckley, Hallie R. and Petchey, Peter and Millard, Andrew R. and Gröcke, Darren R. (2021) 'Childhood in Colonial Otago, New Zealand: Integrating Isotopic and Dental Evidence for Growth Disturbance and Oral Health.', Childhood in the Past .


Experiences of childhood in colonial New Zealand are difficult to reconstruct from the historical record alone. Many of those who came to the colony were illiterate, and the Victorian tendency to avoid discussion of pregnancy and breastfeeding practices restricts our understanding of this important period. Bioarchaeological investigation, however, has the potential to illuminate the life stories of these first-generation Pākehā (European) settlers. Here we use isotopic evidence combined with dental pathology from children interred in a historic cemetery from Otago, New Zealand, to examine colonial childhood. We show how weaning practices in the colony differ from those experienced by their emigrant parents, highlight periods of illness likely associated with the weaning process, and bring to light the potential problems caused by maternal Vitamin D deficiency in the colony.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 08 May 2023.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0.
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Childhood in the Past on 08 November 2021, available online:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:11 November 2021
Date of first online publication:08 November 2021
Date first made open access:08 May 2023

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