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Workers dig up ancient human bones

Tainui hapū environmental spokesperson Angeline Greensill says there should be no more development of Māori land in Raglan following the unearthing of old human bones in Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive on Thursday last week.

The bones were discovered by contractors working with a digger on the grassy flat used for car parking next to the Kokiri Centre.

A new wastewater pump station was being installed by Te Kopua 2B3, a Raglan-based Māori land incorporation which is working on the nearby papakainga housing development, a project to help resettle Māori people back upon their ancestral lands.

Police and an archaeologist were called in, as is standard procedure, with the archaeologist determining that the bones were 400-500 years old.

Angeline says work has stopped on that site, and Raglan iwi will be talking to the Waikato District Council regarding any development of Māori land in the area, which is classified as Pa Zone.

She says the find was “definitely a burial”, and it was common that bodies were once buried in the sand.

“It’s not surprising, there were five to six pa sites in this area.

“It’s part of the Tainui history of this place.

“A lot of our ancestors were living here. It’s common to find bones of ancestors.

“He is not the only one who is there and better we leave them alone.”

She says the human bones, which had been removed from the site, were reinterred on Monday morning, back where they were found.

“We had an appropriate ceremony, it was fitting: appropriate people, appropriate karakia to put him back to rest to be guardian there.

“People won’t be parking there any more.

“We will plant a few trees to commemorate the space and talk to the council.

“There is a history here and the road to the beach is only recent history. It’s time to re-educate the people about that.”

Waikato District Council customer support general manager Sue Duignan says the new wastewater pump station was being built by Te Kopua 2B3 to accommodate the growth in the area.

She says there are conditions within the subdivision consent that manage the protocols around archaeological findings and an archaeological report for the site had been prepared upon application.

Due care has been taken, she says.

“We understand local iwi and the development group have met to discuss the issues regarding the area and a decision has been made by the developer to relocate the pump station.”

Inger Vos

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