Born and raised in Mānoa Valley I developed a deep appreciation for the unique environment and diverse cultures of Hawaiʻi. As a Punahou student I had the good fortune to connect with scholars at the Bishop Museum, who directed me on a career path in Polynesian anthropology and archaeology. After completing my doctorate in anthropology at Yale in 1975, I returned to Hawai’i and worked on the staff of the Bishop Museum for ten years, carrying out field research in the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Hawai’i. In 1984 I became the director the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, then moved to the University of California at Berkeley in 1989, continuing all the while my active research in Hawai’i and Polynesia.
- PhD, Yale University, 1975
- MPhil, Yale University, 1973
- BA (cum laude), University of Pennsylvania, 1971
- Punahou Academy (Honolulu), 1968
- ANTH 323: Pacific Islands Archaeology
- ANTH 464: Hawaiian Archaeology
Although my specialization is archaeology, I consider myself a historical anthropologist who draws upon the traditional “four fields” of anthropology to study the deep-time history of the peoples of the Pacific, especially Polynesia and Hawai’i. My field research has taken me across the Pacific, from Papua New Guinea and the Solomons, to Tonga and Samoa, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Hawai’i. I am interested in a variety of research topics, including the origins and settlement history of Pacific peoples, the dynamic interactions between island populations and their ecosystems, the development of complex societies in island settings, and Pacific island agro-ecosystems. Much of my current research focuses on the insights that islands offer as “model systems.”
I have long been involved in various kinds of community outreach in Hawai’i, especially with regard to the preservation of archaeological sites and the promotion of cultural heritage. I was the first President of the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology and remain active in that organization. In 2017 I was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Bishop Museum, where I have taken an active role in helping to develop the Museum’s strategic directions and reinvigorate its research and collections programs. I am also a member of the Advisory Board of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, helping to advise HILT on the preservation of cultural sites.
I have a number of active collaborations with organizations and colleagues around the Pacific region, including the Australian National University, the University of Auckland and University of Otago (New Zealand), and the University of French Polynesia (Tahiti). I am a member of the International Center for Archaeological Research on Polynesia, based at the University of French Polynesia. As a member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences, I have also served as a liaison to the Pacific Science Association.