Māori re­mains found at Whi­rokino

Manawatu Guardian - - NEWS - By ASHLEIGH COL­LIS and SADIE BECKMAN

Māori re­mains have been dis­cov­ered on a road works site in Horowhenua.

One part of the bridge re­place­ment project ad­ja­cent to the Whi­rokino Tres­tle site near Fox­ton was halted af­ter the dis­cov­ery on Wed­nes­day.

Iwi rep­re­sen­ta­tives, ar­chae­ol­o­gists and project lead­ers were called to the site.

Of­fi­cial site ar­chae­ol­o­gist Kevin Jones said a body had been found buried in a tra­di­tional Māori style.

The body had been buried “flexed” in a couch­ing po­si­tion, a rel­a­tively com­mon form of Māori burial used up un­til the 1830s, when Chris­tian burial styles were implemented.

A form of mat­ting was of­ten used to wrap the body in po­si­tion but he was un­sure whether there was ev­i­dence of that at the Whi­rokino site.

The style of burial could be in­dica­tive of iwi in the area, al­though the re­mains had not yet been of­fi­cially linked to an iwi.

Jones said it was not un­com­mon to find burial sites in Horowhenua’s sand dunes and re­mains had also been found at sites un­cov­ered as part of the re­cent Kāpiti ex­press­way.

A meet­ing would be held with iwi, NZ Trans­port Agency and Good­mans, the con­trac­tor un­der­tak­ing the Whi­rokino project.

The meet­ing would dis­cuss what oc­curred next, in­clud­ing whether the body would be pre­served in-situ or dis­in­terred for re­burial else­where.

Good­mans project man­ager Guy For­rest said he didn’t think the com­pany had been in­volved with this kind of dis­cov­ery be­fore.

He said they were acutely aware of the cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity in­volved and were be­ing guided by ar­chae­o­log­i­cal au­thor­ity pro­to­cols and iwi ad­vice.

“Iwi have been par­tic­u­larly help­ful on this project and we don’t want to jeop­ar­dise that,” he said.

Good­mans chief ex­ec­u­tive Stan Good­man said all pro­to­cols were be­ing fol­lowed and he was un­sure how long work would be halted in the af­fected area of the site.

“We’re cur­rently do­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions to find out what’s there, but it’s too early to make too many com­ments,” he said.

The re­mains were dis­cov­ered dur­ing ground test­ing be­fore scrap­ing top­soil from a 10ha area to ex­ca­vate sand for use in two Manawatu River bridge projects.

In all, 500,000 cu­bic me­tres was des­tined to be re­moved from the area be­fore top soil would be re­stored over the site, Jones said.

He was work­ing with fel­low arche­ol­o­gist Hans-Di­eter Bader dur­ing the test­ing but work has now stopped in that area. Fur­ther tests would now be car­ried out. Th­ese in­cluded cre­at­ing test pits as well as the use of a mag­ne­tome­ter, a de­vice that de­tects changes in the mag­netism of the ground, which could in­di­cate the pres­ence of objects.

NZTA has been ap­proached for com­ment.


MAORI ¯ re­mains have been dis­cov­ered on the Whi­rokino Tres­tle site in Horowhenua.

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