Mystic Fires of Tamaatea

 Mystic Fires of Tamaatea: Attempts to creatively rewrite New Zealand’s cultural and tectonic past

James Goff , Keri Hulme, Bruce McFadgen

Abstract
“Mystic Fires of Tamaatea” is the title given to a section of a book entitled “Tsunami: The underrated hazard” written by Edward Bryant and published by Cambridge University Press in 2001. In it the author links New Zealand evidence for widespread forest destruction and Maori place-names and legends with the 15th century timing of an apparent Tunguska-type meteor impact in the South Island of New Zealand, Chinese, and Japanese meteor sightings, comets, and “mega”-tsunamis in Australia. This paper critically reviews the lines of evidence used, and finds no evidence, either Maori or geological, for a 15th century meteor impact in New Zealand. In the book, all Maori place-names have been incorrectly translated, the radiocarbon chronology is incorrect, and there is no consideration of the numerous potential tsunami sources that were active in New Zealand in the 15th century.

Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Volume 33, Number 4, December 2003, pp 795–809
 

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