Catherine Smith

catherine detaching piece one z11227, 661g
Dr Catherine Smith examining a textile for Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga

Catherine works as a Senior Research Fellow at the Dodd Walls Research Centre, University of Otago Dunedin, New Zealand where she is a textile researcher. She holds a PhD (Otago), BAppSci (Conservation of Cultural Materials; Canberra), BA (Hons; Melbourne). Prior to becoming a textile researcher she trained in archaeology and then as an objects conservator, and has worked in Australia and New Zealand, specialising in objects from indigenous and world cultures.

Catherine’s research interests incorporate these disciplines and include materials identification and deterioration, and the analysis of textiles, particularly pre-contact Māori textiles. She enjoys working collaboratively with museum professionals, communities, practitioners and other academics across disciplines to increase understanding about textiles and their preservation, as well as trying to illuminate the importance of plants and textiles to Māori in prehistory.

Catherine was the principal investigator on a Royal Society – Te Aparangi Marsden funded project “Dressing for survival and success: what pre-European Māori wore for adaptive realisation”, examining the earliest Māori textiles. (2014-2017) Catherine’s latest Marsden Project is “Whakaarahia anō te rā kaihau! Raise up again the billowing sail! Revitalising cultural knowledge through analysis of Te Rā, the Māori sail”.


Research Profiles

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