Bones discovery interrupts beach weddings

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 09:54 19/11/2013
Glenn Wilcox of Ngati Whatu
Do you want to get married on top of a dead body? Glenn Wilcox of Ngati Whatu

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Couples have been forced to make last-minute changes to their wedding plans after the discovery of human remains in Long Bay.

Renovations on the beachfront Long Bay Restaurant have been at a standstill since the koiwi, or pre-European, bones were found buried at the site in July.

A coroner has confirmed the bones are historic and could date back to the early 1700s.

Ngati Whatua's Glenn Wilcox said the remains were thought to belong to a young child.

"Around 300 years ago was a time of constant unrest in this area. We expect there are many more bodies buried in the area."

The delay is frustrating for all involved, but until the NZ Historic Places Trust comes to a decision nothing can be done, Wilcox said.

"That's a really sad part of it," he said.

"But do you want to get married on top of a dead body?"

Auckland Council's application to the NZ Historic Places Trust to investigate the archaeological significance of the site was still being processed.

Maori with connections to the area, including Ngati Whatua and Ngati Paoa, had been involved in consultations.

Work could not restart until an outcome was reached by iwi and the NZ Historic Places Trust, a council spokesperson said.

A protection order could be placed on the area meaning the restaurant could no longer operate there.

Construction on the facility, including a function room for around 100 guests and a restaurant to seat 40, was due for completion last month.

It was understood the venue was fully booked from October through to May next year.

"Unfortunately restaurant bookings impacted by the works had to be cancelled by the restaurant licensee," the council spokesperson said.

"In the meantime we're working with the restaurant licensee on alternative options for providing a cafe-style food and beverage service over summer for the large number of visitors to Long Bay Regional Park."

Hibiscus and Bays Local Board member Julia Parfitt said one "stop-gap solution" proposed would see the restaurant operate under a large temporary marquee.

"I have received a number of calls from concerned mothers of brides-to-be because they expected it to be up and running by summer. One bride has moved her wedding to Cheltenham Beach," she said.

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- North Shore Times

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