Skeleton Find Stumps Kapiti (New Zealand)

Roundup: Talking About History

Kay Blundell, The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand), 04 Oct. 2004

A subdivision in Paraparaumu has been stopped dead in its tracks by the discovery of skeletons in shallow graves believed to be more than 100 years old.

The skeletons -- believed to be of at least four or five bodies, including that of possibly a younger person -- were discovered by workmen using a digger and have historians, police and local Maori stumped.

They were found on a 20-hectare block of land between Mazengarb Rd and Southwards Complex which is being developed into 140 sections by the Pritchard Group.

Developer David Pritchard said police and the Historic Places Trust were investigating the find in conjunction with local iwi.

"The skeletons were a complete surprise," he said yesterday.

"We investigated the history of the land before we started the development. There were no historical graves registered with the Historic Places Trust and local iwi had no knowledge of them.

"Initial investigations suggest the skeletons could be those of Europeans because it appeared they were in coffins, as nails were found surrounding them."

The skeletons were uncovered by diggers last Thursday and iwi representatives, police, Kapiti Coast District Council and Historic Places Trust representatives visited the site on Friday.

Archaeological investigations were scheduled to begin today and excavation would resume only after the skeletons had been removed and laid to rest in a specially allocated site, Mr Pritchard said.

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