The Japan Times, April 12, 1998
Theory of early arrival n New Zealand boosted
WELLINGTON (AP) An almost perfect match through radiocarbon dating bolstered a theory that people arrived in New Zealand up to 1,000 years earlier than experts had believed, the Dominion newspaper reported Saturday.
The match came after duck bones found inside a cave buried in volcanic ash in Taupo borough on North Island were compared with an eruption that occurred in 232.
The tests show the extinct Finsch's duck died at the same time as the eruption.
The findings provided fresh support for the theory of Christchurch fossil researcher Richard Holdaway that people first arrived in New Zealand up to 2,000 years ago.
Holdaway's theory that people arrived, and then either died out or departed, is based on radiocarbon dating of rat bones.
The dating showed rats arrived in New Zealand far earlier than originally thought.
Most scientists believe it would be almost impossible for rats to reach New Zealand without human help, and that they stowed away on boats.
The theory caused a scientific storm, with critics questioning the effectiveness of carbon dating of small animals such as rats.
The accurate dating of the duck bones, believed to be the first animal bones found entombed in ash from the eruption, is seen as a blow to critics of the carbon dating of bones of small animals.
Successfully matching the radiocarbon dating of the duck bones made it "difficult for people to say there's something weird about the dates from those kinds of bones," Landcare Research scientist Matt McGlone said.
Holdaway said he was delighted by the almost perfect match in dates, which is the best evidence so far to prove the effectiveness of radiocarbon dating of bones.