Accidental discovery

If in doubt Stop and Shout! If you think you have found or actually do discover any material that could be part an archaeological site, Koiwi and/or Taonga, you must stop all work and secure the discovery area and immediately notify the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, (04) 499 0669

In the event of any discovery of archaeological

material you must stop work immediately:

  • Cease earthmoving operations and mark off the affected area: and
  • Advise your regional council of the disturbance; and
  • Advise the New Zealand Historic Places Trust of the disturbance. (04 499 0669)

If the archaeological material is determined to be Koiwi Tangata (human bones) or Taonga (treasured artefacts) by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, you must immediately advise the appropriate runanga of the discovery. Your regional council will be able to provide you with contact information.

Work will recommence once the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (following consultation with runanga if the site is of Maori origin) provides a statement in writing to your regional council that appropriate action has been undertaken in relation to archaeological materials discovered. Once your regional council has received a written receipt from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust saying that the appropriate steps have been taken then work can commence.

Under the Historic Places Act 1993 an archaeological site is defined as any place associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there is material evidence relating to the history of New Zealand. For sites solely of Maori origin, this evidence may be in the form of accumulations of shell, bone, charcoal, burnt stones, etc. In later sites artefacts such as bottles or broken glass, ceramics, metals, etc, may be found or evidence of old foundations, wells, drains, tailings, races or other structures. Human remains/ koiwi may date to any historic period.

It is unlawful for any person to destroy, damage, or modify the whole or any part of an archaeological site without prior authority of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. This is the case regardless of the legal status of the land on which the site is located, whether the activity is permitted under the District or Regional Plan or whether a resource or building consent has been granted. The Historic Places Act provides for substantial penalties for unauthorised damage or destruction.

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Image supplied courtesy of Waikato Times