Skull found on Waiheke Island

GRISLY FIND: This skull was found on Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island.
GRISLY FIND: This skull was found on Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island.

A family unearthed a gruesome discovery while searching for scallops on a popular Waiheke Island beach over the weekend.

Staring up from beneath the rocks was a human skull.

Angie Newton and her two children stumbled upon the historical, partial human skull while walking along Onetangi Beach on Friday night.

''We came around some rocks and saw half a human skull staring right at us. We completely freaked out,'' Newton's daughter, Nassai Herren, 10, told

Newton said the brown-coloured skull had silver oyster shells attached and her daughters' repulsion soon turned to childhood curiosity.

''Initially it was shock-horror, then when I picked it up it was, oh my God, you're touching it!''

But soon enough the children were taking a closer look and Mailis Herren, nine, carried the skull on her lap on the drive home.

Newton said they considered leaving the skull for the authorities to fetch, but she feared the rough weather and incoming tide would wash it away.

The family wanted the remains to have a proper burial so they called police, who have since collected the skull.

Newton said she believed the skull had washed up when thousands of horse mussels swamped the beach earlier this year.

''That's churned up a lot of stuff but I don't know where it's come from.''

Another resident found a moa bone in January while a friend discovered what looked like a whale bone recently, she said.

Auckland city police spokesperson Noreen Hegarty said an archeologist would assess the bones before deciding what would be done with them.

People are required by law to hand in any human remains.

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) is in charge of the identification, protection and preservation of any historical remains.

NZHPT archaeologist Bev Parslow said the remains could have been unearthed from a nearby Maori burial site.

This often occurred after a large storm and high tides, she said.

NZHPT relied on the public's assistance in alerting police when human remains are discovered.

She advised people who discovered remains to contact police, mark the site, and not disturb them unless they're in immediate danger.

The agency worked with local Maori on a case-by-case basis to decide what action would be taken, she said.