Topic: Tainui

Human bones unearthed at construction site

By Ripeka Timutimu
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Human remains, or kōiwi, have been discovered at a construction site for the Waikato Expressway.

Archaeologist Sian Keith says the kōiwi could be around 200 to 400 years old.

“We’ve got about six individual people and the age range is from six to 40.  Four of them are children, six to 16. The others are older,” says Keith.

The discovery was made a by a contract worker for the New Zealand Transport Agency. 

Keith says, “You would imagine they are probably a family group but we would have to do some more analysis on the bones to determine that.”

Waikato-Tainui worked alongside NZTA to establish the Kōiwi discovery protocols- guidelines to help both parties navigate the often sensitive issues surrounding kōiwi discovery.

Project manager, Moko Tauariki says the process has Māori at the forefront of any discoveries made. 

“We have made a significant shift with Tainui and NZTA that allows tangata whenua to have direct input with NZTA and their contractors.  We have been able to foster tikanga and protocol for when discoveries like this have been made.  We know things like this didn’t happen many years ago,” says Tauariki.

Following examination by scientists, the kōiwi will be returned to local iwi.