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Cook brought chickens to NZ: report

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/08/2016

Who came first, the chickens or Captain Cook?

Trick question, it turns out they might have arrived in New Zealand together.

Radiocarbon analyses of chicken bones found in Maori middens has found they pre-date regular European settlement but overlap with the arrival of James Cook's second voyage in the 1770s.

"Their age suggests that they were from chickens, or descendants thereof, liberated by Cook; the fates of which have never been established," the Royal Society of Open Science revealed on Wednesday.

"This finding suggests Maori may have rapidly integrated Cook's chickens into their livelihoods, and transported them around New Zealand during the early European settlement era."

The bones were taken from three sites on the eastern coast of the South Island, the oldest coming from a site at Christchurch's Redcliffs School.

But it's not clear where Cook's chickens might have come from.

"The chickens released by Cook's expedition in New Zealand may have had mixed origins, as they definitely acquired chickens at a stop at the Cape Verde Islands, but may also have had chickens sourced from England, South Africa and Tahiti/Tonga," the report by lead author Jamie Wood said.

It's believed the chickens may have been bred and transported by Maori along the South Island, traded between groups.

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