Human bones have been discovered at a development site for a new coastal community in Papamoa.
Tauranga City Council urban growth senior project manager Campbell Larking says three bones were discovered at the proposed Te Tumu development site during a recent commissioned archaeological survey.
“We commissioned Archaeology Bay of Plenty to survey the sites, conducting a visual assessment along with minor subsurface testing, which included small test holes dug at and between known archaeological sites.
“The work was approved by Heritage NZ and was carried out between early December 2017 and mid-January 2018.
“During the investigations, Archaeology BOP were accompanied by three cultural monitors from Tapuika, Ngā Potiki and Ngāti Pūkenga.
“During the survey, the team found kōiwi (human bones) exposed out of the ground at three of the sites. One bone was found at each location, on the surface of the dune systems – not in the test holes.
“In accordance with tradition, the bones were not moved from where they were found. Loose sand was placed over the exposed bones and the cultural monitors performed a karakia after each discovery.
“The kōiwi were found within known archaeological sites and as such are proposed to continue to be protected from any future urban development following structure planning and rezoning of Te Tumu.
“Kōiwi are regularly found in archaeological sites throughout the Tauranga area, so it was not unexpected for the team to discover the kōiwi during the survey.”
The proposed development site is being built as a way, to help support the city's future growth and is expected to create housing for more than 15000 people, says Council.
“Te Tumu is a place of great historic and cultural wealth, both for Tangata Whenua and European settlers. We are working closely with landowners, iwi and hapū to collaboratively decide what the future of Te Tumu might look like, and ensure this heritage is protected.
“There are 36 recorded archaeological sites in the proposed Te Tumu urban growth area, mainly along the coastal margins and the Kaituna River margins.
“These sites have been identified in the Tauranga City Plan since 2014 and as such are protected from development. They include significant Māori areas such as pa sites, living areas, a battle ground and a burial area, and a number of archaeological sites that reflect pre-European and post-European occupation of Te Tumu.
“As part of the structure planning process currently underway in Te Tumu, we are undertaking further assessments to refine the boundaries of these sites and ensure the areas we protect through the rezoning of the land are appropriate.”
He says data collected during the recent survey will be presented in a report to Tauranga City Council, Heritage New Zealand, landowners, iwi and hapū.
Updated information for each site will also be submitted to the New Zealand Archaeological Association's site recording scheme.
“The significance of each site will be assessed using the Heritage New Zealand significance assessment criteria and Bay of Plenty Regional Policy Statement criteria.
“The results of the significance assessments will be used to identify appropriate management strategies for each site.
“Management strategies may include remedial work such as removal of vegetation to prevent any ongoing damage, retirement from grazing or intensive land use, and long term passive recreation designations.”
Three key archaeological investigations have been undertaken by Tauranga City Council since 2000 on the Te Tumu landholdings: in 2000, 2015/16, and this recent one in 2017/18, says Campbell.
“Prior investigations on archaeology will have also been undertaken prior to 2000. Kōiwi have been found on the Te Tumu dune system in the past, through prior investigations.
“In 2000, Warren Gumbley and Ken Phillips carried out an archaeological survey of the Te Tumu Block for Tauranga City Council.
“During the survey they inspected recorded archaeological sites and identified a number of previously unrecorded sites. This brought the total recorded archaeological sites within Te Tumu to 36.
“The information collected through this work on the nature, location, extent and significance of each recorded site ranged from single point coordinates and a brief site description, to polygons defining the extent of complex sites with a detailed description and assessment of significance.
“This information, along with wider assessments on significance, was utilised in planning for, identifying and protecting sites of significance within Te Tumu through the Tauranga City Plan.
“These sites have been, and continue to be protected under that Plan. There are no proposals to not continue to provide protection of these sites.”
In 2015/16, as part of the Te Tumu Strategic Planning Study, the available archaeological information was reviewed by Archaeology BOP.
“The resulting report provided baseline information on the extent of the archaeological areas, for use in the current planning process.
“It provided a number of recommendations for further survey work to more accurately determine the location, extent and significance of the archaeological sites as well as identifying archaeological landscapes and appropriate management strategies for each site or group of sites.
“This is the work which has now occurred through the current 2017/18 archaeological survey. The archaeological investigations are part of the current suite of investigations into Te Tumu, which covers consideration of land use options, provision of reserves, stormwater planning and management, natural hazards assessment and transport planning.
“The purpose of the 2017/18 investigations is to establish more accurate boundaries for recorded archaeological sites.
“This was done through spade test pitting within the sites that currently have no or limited surface features to determine archaeological integrity, and around the perimeter of the sites with visible features to establish more accurate boundaries.”
“The 2017/18 assessment further refines our knowledge, and will allow to confirm archaeological significance and provide management strategies for each archaeological area.”
Campbell says in addition to cultural sites, dunes are also being protected.
“The Te Tumu coastal dune system is protected through the Tauranga City Plan for its ecological, cultural and natural values.
“The 2015/16 strategic planning study and the work on master planning for Te Tumu also recognise the dune system's important role in mitigating potential coastal erosion and tsunami risk.
“Any future beach access proposals will be subject to intensive archaeological assessments which will be undertaken at the time of future subdivision or development proposals.
“Clear guidance on appropriate access points will occur through the development of the future structure plan for Te Tumu.
“On completion of the 2017/18 investigations, Archaeology BOP will provide recommendations on strategies to protect sites, including how to manage public access within or around areas with high archaeological significance.
“Additional protection mechanisms will be discussed with iwi, hapū and landowners through the continuing development of the Te Tumu Structure Plan. Decision making on protection and management of all 36 sites will be a collaborative process through the development of the Te Tumu Structure Plan.”