Next stage in Chinese burial project
An archaeological team, which proposes to study the bones of Chinese gold miners buried at the Lawrence cemetery, will be making a submission regarding the exhumation project at the next Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Board meeting.
University of Otago bioarchaeologist Professor Hallie Buckley spoke at a public meeting held at Lawrence on Tuesday night.
She and the research team talked to the community about the people buried at the edge of the Lawrence cemetery, who were likely Chinese miners, or who may have been their life partners, or possibly impoverished European settlers who lived in the community.
‘‘People seemed very interested and there were a lot of good questions. No one raised any concerns or issues at the meeting,’’ Buckley said.
About 20 people attended, including members of the Chinese community, Clutha District Council, the community board, and retired Anglican minister Vivienne Galletly, formerly of Milton, who has been involved in a Milton exhumation project with Buckley.
Buckley’s team recently dug up the remains of early settlers at the St John’s Burial Ground and, using similar techniques, is hoping to study the health and lives of the Otago goldfields Chinese community through their bones.
However, to give people further opportunity to voice any concerns or their support, or ask more questions, the research team agreed to attend the public forum at the Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Board meeting on November 15, at 3pm.
In a statement, the archaeological team members say they hope the community will share their excitement ‘‘about the great opportunity to discover a rich vein of information about the lives of these pioneering settlers’’.
If the project gains support, Buckley says it will provide ‘‘a fascinating counterpoint’’ to the biological anthropology research that she and her colleagues were currently undertaking into the lives of the European settlers buried in the cemetery near Milton, and the people of Wairau Bar in Marlborough, who were likely our country’s first colonists.
In historical terms, New Zealand is only a recently settled country, so there were many lessons to be learned from these three parallel projects, she says.