History below the capital’s pavement
Between 50 and 100 centimetres below Wellington’s pavements lies a small window of information about the city’s early British settlement.
On Friday, Wellington City Council contractors discovered some of the earliest settler infrastructure recorded in the capital.
They were carrying out work under Lombard St, in the central city, when they discovered a drain pre-dating 1850.
‘‘What it represents is some of the earliest infrastructure – that wasn’t constructed by Ma¯ori – in Wellington city,’’ Vanessa Tanner, senior heritage adviser at Wellington City Council, said.
‘‘[It] contributes valuable information to our understanding of early Wellington settlements.’’
The British arrived in Wellington in the 1840s. Tanner said the drain must have been constructed prior to 1850 because a city plan from that year has it marked out.
Before land reclamation, that area was Wellington’s foreshore and an early centre of commerce in the city. The area contained a customs house, an exchange house, private wharves and accounting firms.
‘‘The whole area is an area that is quite interesting historically and archeological as it turns out,’’ Tanner said.
The drain was found while contractors were digging a trench below Lombard St to install new services.
The crew could not establish how long the drain was, but will carry out research to find that out.
It will be a process of linking the dots, using this discovery to help expand knowledge of the early city, Tanner said.
The team took samples from the site and will study the bricks to find out where they came from.
The discovery also enables them to confirm the layout of early buildings in central Wellington.
‘‘It is significant because items from that early colonial period are relatively rare.’’
What is most interesting is to imagine what life would have been like then, Tanner said.
‘‘New Zealand was a different world.’’
Vanessa Tanner and Andy Dodd at the site of the archaeological discovery in Wellington.
The discovery of the drain beneath Lombard St in Wellington CBD will help archaeologists learn more about early British settlement in the area.