‘Exciting’ Archaeological Finds Provide ‘Known Occupation’ in Marlborough Bay

Archaeologist Kirsty Sykes is investigating the Marlborough District Council's Waikawa Bay Remediation Project, where Maori artifacts have been found.


Archaeologist Kirsty Sykes is investigating the Marlborough District Council’s Waikawa Bay Remediation Project, where Maori artifacts have been found.

An old Maori tool and “chimney” have been discovered in Waikawa Bay in Marlborough, while piping work is being done next to the seafront.

A senior archaeologist hired to oversee the work dated the adze, or toki, to the late 1800s, and said the chimney was lined with seashells native to the area, such as cockles, pee, and mussels.

It would have been a “great place to sit by the shore, have a meal and enjoy the company and the view,” as it was today, said Kirsty Sykes, a woman from Blenheim.

Sykes said it was an “exciting” surprise when she and a cultural instructor from Te Ä€tiawa stumbled upon the adze in the foreshore parking lot. This proved that the site was of Maori origin.

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Te Ātiawa o te Waka a Māui reluctantly moved to Waikawa Bay after the government bought their main settlement, Waitohi / Picton, in the mid-1800s.

The rūnanga declared that Waikawa Bay was a pātaka kai (pantry) for the community.

“There are steps from the trail on Waikawa Rd to the beach. This area of ​​the beach was a taunga waka (waka landing), ”they said. “Across from the steps across the road was the Waikawa Native School, established in 1877.”

Their land was purchased by the government in 1849, with the exception of certain portions, including 3.6 hectares in Waikawa for a landing reserve.

Sykes said that despite this knowledge, there had been little archaeological investigation in the area.

The taonga were found in the parking lot at Waikawa Bay.


The taonga were found in the parking lot at Waikawa Bay.

“The opportunity to investigate this site while excavations were underway for the upgrade was therefore exciting, providing an opportunity to search for archaeological evidence of known occupation,” she said in a statement. .

Marlborough District Council wanted to install a new sewer overflow chamber in the Waikawa Bay parking lot, but needed permission from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

Sykes was called after Heritage NZ gave the council the green light in case any artifacts were found.

It was illegal to modify or destroy archaeological sites without a permit. The permits came with conditions to give the government a better understanding of the past.

Waikawa Bay is 10 minutes from Picton.


Waikawa Bay is 10 minutes from Picton.

Material from the Waikawa Bay site would be analyzed as part of this process, and the findings would be communicated to Heritage NZ and the Council.

These would be returned to Te Ātiawa once the tests were completed, with the exception of the adze. Maori artifacts were protected in New Zealand and, once found, were left with the government until they could be returned to their owner.

“The site is in the rohe (tribal area) of Te Ä€tiawa o te Waka a Māui, and the Maori associations of features and materials encountered so far provide a tangible link to the tÅ«puna (ancestors) who lived in this area. “, Sykes mentioned.

Copper bottles and nails, similar to those used to build boats, also emerged for the first time in a century as part of the work.

The findings disrupted the city council’s remediation project somewhat, as workers were unable to resume construction until mid-July. The project was due to end at the end of October.

The idea was to reduce the frequency and severity of sewer overflows in Waikawa, which drained into the bay, creating a risk to public health and degrading water quality.

The project included upgrading the wharf pumping station, laying a major sewer line between Waikawa Bay and Waimarama Street, and constructing an overflow storage chamber.

Do you have a history of the board that we don’t know about? Then email reporter Chloe Ranford at [email protected]

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