Skeletons at Paraparaumu 'Probably Maori'

Roundup: Talking About History

Kay Blundell, The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand), 19 Oct. 2004

At least four skeletons, including a child, were discovered on a 20-hectare block between Mazengarb Rd and the Southwards Complex two weeks ago. The find stopped earthworks at the site.

The skeletons were first thought to be European because they were found buried in coffins constructed with nails and there was no iwi knowledge of burials in the area.

However, consultant archaeologist Mary O'Keeffe said that, based on an initial archaeological investigation, the skeletons appeared to show Maori physical characteristics.

The findings still had to be verified by a physical anthropologist.

Ms O'Keeffe said there was a potential for other archaeological sites in the immediate vicinity based on the Kapiti Coast's rich and diverse environment at the time.

"It was a very desirable place to live," she said.

The skeletons were believed to date back to the early 19th century. Ms O'Keeffe based the date on the fact that the bodies had been buried using European burial customs.

"European influence from missionaries and traders was increasing on the Kapiti Coast from the early 19th century.

"A piece of cloth was found in association with one of the burials which may have been a blanket wrapped around the body -- again suggesting European influence," she said.

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