Atholl Anderson was born in Hawera and was educated at Otago Boys High School and Nelson College. In 1962 he began tertiary studies at the University of Canterbury, graduating BA and MA(Hons) in Geography, and a Dip. Teaching in 1967 from Christchurch Teachers’ Training College. From 1970-1972 he completed MA(Hons) in Anthropology at the University of Otago before being awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to further his studies at Cambridge University, where he was an Associate of the British Academy Major Research Project into the Early History of Agriculture. In 1974 he was awarded an Anthony Wilkin Studentship at Cambridge University and graduated with a PhD in Archaeology from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1977. Returning to New Zealand, Anderson became Senior Tutor in Anthropology at the University of Auckland, before taking up University of Otago appointments as Assistant Lecturer (1978), Lecturer (1979-83), Senior Lecturer (1984-88), Associate Professor (1989-90), and being awarded a personal chair in Prehistory (1991-93). In 1993-2000, Anderson was Professor of Prehistory at the Research School of Pacific Studies (RSPAS) at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. In 1994-96 he was Foundation Head of the Division of Archaeology and Natural History at RSPAS, and in 1999-2002 was Foundation Director for the Centre for Archaeological Research, ANU. He is currently Professor of Prehistory at the Department of Archaeology and Natural History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Institute of Advanced Studies at ANU.
Anderson’s numerous scholarships, fellowships and awards include a Visiting Fellowship at Clare Hall, Cambridge University, Senior Research Associate at the Tokyo University Museum and Research Fellow at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (1986). Anderson was made a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University (1987) and received the Stephenson Percy Smith Medal for research in Anthropology (1990). He was appointed Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (1991) and Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (1992). He was awarded a Fulbright Visiting Scholarship to Hawaii (1993) and received the Polynesian Society’s Elsdon Best Memorial Medal (1994). In 1996 he was a visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College,Cambridge University; was appointed Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities; and was a recipient of an exchange scholarship with the Royal Swedish Academy of the Humanities. In 1997 he was awarded a Captain James Cook Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He received a Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2002 and was a recipient of the Federation Centenary Medal of Australia for services to archaeology in 2003. In 2002 Anderson was awarded an Sc.D from the University of Cambridge. In 2005 he was a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Britain and in 2006 he was admitted as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Along with his academic teaching positions, Anderson has held many administrative positions at the University of Otago during his tenure there, and also at the Australian National University. He had an active involvement with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and was on the Board of Trustees from 1984-88. He has been a member of the International Council for Archaeology from 1978-2006, and associated with the Royal Society of New Zealand, the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, New Zealand Archaeological Association and the Otago Anthropological Association.
From 1987-89 Anderson was an expert witness for claimants before the Waitangi Tribunal (Wai-27) on the Otakou claim and Mahinga Kai (Traditional economies) claim and in 1989 he was a consultant on prehistoric Māori fishing for the New Zealand Māori Council. He was a Māori Observer on the Otago Museum Board from 1988-1990, expert witness for Historic Places Trust in the Waipoua claim before the Waitangi Tribunal and expert witness for the Tranzrail hearings on Kaparatehau in 1997.
He is a member of several committees of Te Runanganui o Tahu and Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board: Ko Iwi Tangata (1990-1993), and Komiti Tuku Iho (1991-1997). He was academic adviser to the South Island Māori Rock Art Project (1993-1997) and from 1982-1993 was a member of the Otakou Māori Committee. Anderson is a member of Te Runanga Otakou.
Anderson has written a large number of publications, academic papers, articles and reports which have been published in many academic journals and publications. He has written some 25 book reviews in journals including Antiquity, Journal of the Polynesian Society, Archaeology in Oceania, The Contemporary Pacific, Journal of Pacific History, and Australian Journal of History. He has been on the Editorial Boards or committees of Mankind (1984-1986), Archaeology in Oceania (1988-1993), Journal of Anthropological Science (Tokyo 1992-2003), Archaeofauna (1996-2003), Tor (1996-1997), International Journal of Osteoarchaeology (London 1998-2003), ANH Publications (Canberra 1993-2002), and Cultural Landscapes (Adelaide 2006).
"In 2015 Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History which he co-authored with the late-Dame Judith Binney and Dr Aroha Harris, was named one of five titles shortlisted for the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize and for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in 2016."
- Correspondence from Atholl Anderson, 5 Nov. 1992, 14 July 1998, 17 March 2004 and 15 Sept. 2006.
http://www.writersfestival.co.nz/programmes/writers/atholl-anderson/ 7 September 2016