Archaeologists discover pā site

By Taroi Black
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Preparations to start work on the Waikato Expressway has provided an opportunity to uncover a past.

A team of archaeologists have found evidence of burrow and storage pits as part of a large pā site believed to be dated back to the 15th Century. 

For these archaeologists, it's like a gold mine.

Hohepa Barton says, “This use to be a garden.  These were three other pā sites that connect to this garden, Te Uapata, Te Pā o Mahuta Te Pā o Tahou and also Tara Heke.”

Archaeologists and Waikato Tainui have started collecting and preserving items from New Zealand's buried past, in preparation for work to start on the $458 million Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway.

Warren Gumbley says, “It's the largest horticulture area in Polynesia really by quite a long way.  We're here right now, because this particular section of this garden is going to be destroyed.  So it's a routine part of the section to have the archaeological work done.”

The project team will ensure that it recognises the rich cultural history of the area.

Peter Simcock says, “Within the project we will build in some symbolism which will recognise the cultural significance and we will also involve the iwi in the delivery of the project.”

Hohepa Barton says, “The amazing thing about our work is that we have the opportunity to collect more information that will also benefit our future generation.”

Warren Gumbley says, “We know now that when Tainui came into the Waikato valley, they started these horticultural systems right from the word go.”

The team will continue to work on this site for the next two weeks and then move on to the next historical site.