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Pacific archaeologist was mentor to many


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POSTED: Thursday, October 08, 2009

Renowned Pacific archaeologist and anthropologist Roger C. Green, a former Bishop Museum staff member and University of Hawaii professor, died Sunday at his home in Auckland, New Zealand.

“;Roger's passing is a great loss for Pacific archaeology and anthropology,”; Patrick V. Kirch, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, said in an e-mail.

Kirch, who was born and raised in Hawaii and on the Bishop Museum staff from 1975 to 1984, said Green “;was the ariki nui of his generation of archaeologists and his original field work in Mangareva, Moorea, Samoa, New Zealand, Hawaii, the Solomons and other islands leaves a tremendous legacy.”; Ariki is the Maori word for alii or chief.

Green, born in Ridgewood, N.J., began studying archaeology in high school and later at the University of New Mexico and Harvard.

A Fulbright Fellowship took him to Auckland University in 1958-59 for excavations in New Zealand and French Polynesia.

That sparked his interest in the Pacific, according to Archaeopedia, a Web-based encyclopedia of archaeology.

He returned to New Zealand in 1961 and did research there and in Western Samoa.

He joined Bishop Museum in 1967 and taught at UH and carried out contract archaeology for the museum at Makaha and other sites threatened with destruction.

He returned to New Zealand in 1970 as a James Cook Research Fellow and conducted research in the Solomon Islands seeking to expand knowledge of the Lapita settlement of the central Pacific believed to be ancestral to all Polynesian cultures, according to Archaeopedia.

It says Green's work “;went on to revolutionize the study of archaeology in this country (New Zealand) where his contributions to the study of prehistory, the training of archaeologists and anthropologists and the expansion of the knowledge based on Pacific prehistory has been enormous.”;

Kirch said Green “;was a tireless mentor to countless students. I personally feel a great loss as Roger became a mentor to me when I was still in high school.”;

Later, they collaborated on various projects, including a book, “;Hawaiki, Ancestral Polynesia.”;

“;He was taken from us too early, when he still had new contributions in the works,”; Kirch said. “;He will be greatly missed.”;

Green was a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, a member of the American Numismatic and Archaeological Society and U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

He received many awards and medals for his contributions to human sciences in New Zealand and his work in Pacific archaeology and cultural history.

“;From his time in Hawaii doing rescue archaeology, he has been a strong advocate of this work being an opportunity for more than data recovery but for addressing research questions, provided those questions are asked,”; said Archaeopedia.

He was one of only 58 archaeologists in the world included in the Encyclopaedia of Archaeology.

He was a past president of the New Zealand Archaeological Association, prolific author and longtime editor of anthropological papers in the Auckland Institute and Museum Records. He also worked to protect archaeological sites and conserve heritage materials.

Surviving him is his wife, Valerie.

He was buried in a private ceremony Monday, Kirch said.