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In 1975 an amateur paleontologist made a discovery that rewrote the prehistory of New Zealand. Forty years later, Ngāi Tūhoe are leading a project that could open up a whole new chapter in our understanding of when dinosaurs walked this land. Prior to 1975, it was widely believed that there were no dinosaur fossils in New Zealand. There had certainly been marine fossils discovered, but terrestrial dinosaurs - the stuff of nightmares that we all marvelled at in school - had never been found, and it was popularly believed that they never would be. Then, in 1975, Joan Wiffen, a housewife who considered herself a good jam-maker but a rank amateur paleontologist, packed her whānau and some friends into the family Hillman and set off in search of fossils in the Maungahouanga stream in the hills behind Hawkes Bay, near the southern boundary of the Te Urewera ranges. 

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Needle in a haystack
28 February 2017

In 1975 an amateur paleontologist made a discovery that rewrote the prehistory of New Zealand. Forty years later, Ngāi Tūhoe are leading a project that could open up a whole new chapter in our understanding of when dinosaurs walked this land. Prior to 1975, it was widely believed that there were no dinosaur fossils in New Zealand. There had certainly been marine fossils discovered, but terrestrial dinosaurs - the stuff of nightmares that we all marvelled at in school - had never been found, and it was popularly believed that they never would be. Then, in 1975, Joan Wiffen, a housewife who considered herself a good jam-maker but a rank amateur paleontologist, packed her whānau and some friends into the family Hillman and set off in search of fossils in the Maungahouanga stream in the hills behind Hawkes Bay, near the southern boundary of the Te Urewera ranges. 

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