Phil is a retired geologist and archaeologist, joining the Museum as a Research Associate in 2018.
The focus of his research is examining the extensive Māori artefact collections held by the Museum with the aim of providing more reliable identifications of the types of stone materials (lithics) used in pre-European times to make tools (eg adzes, cutting/scraping implements) and other items, and attempting to identify where those lithic materials originated from. He has undertaken field work in Canterbury to better document known stone sources, such as those at Grays Hills (Mackenzie Basin) and near Oxford.
Currently, he is undertaking visual discrimination and non-destructive chemical analysis of obsidian artefacts from various archaeological sites in Canterbury to identify exactly where the obsidian originated from (as all known sources are in the North Island), and to establish what connection early Māori communities may have had with each other and with tribes in the North Island. A joint study of pounamu (nephrite) from South Westland is also being carried out with Museum Senior Curators Julia Bradshaw and Paul Scofield.