Finder of old Maori oven fears it could be destroyed
Archaeological features could be damagedHELEN HARVEY
Ken Turner is concerned work on a new subdivision in Karamea St may destroy an old Maori oven he found a few years ago.
Mr Turner used to live in a house on Poplar Grove that backed onto the area being developed in Karamea St and he found the oven stones over his back fence a few years ago.
He went to the New Plymouth District Council and reported the find, he said.
Mr Turner didn't hear back, so, at the end of 2012 he invited archaeologist Ivan Bruce to have a look.
Mr Bruce registered the site with the New Zealand Archaeological Association Site Recording Scheme.
Now construction work had been started on the site Mr Turner, who had since moved house, was concerned that the old umu would be destroyed. Mr Bruce said it was a very small Maori oven, which was a common archaeological feature.
"We find them all over the place. I haven't done any other archeological inspection (on that site) other than inspect that which was visible. There is potential for features similar to be in the vicinity."
If the paddocks beside it were being subdivided any archaeological features could be potentially damaged, he said.
"Because the oven had been recorded there are grounds to suspect there could be other archeological finds there."
The council should have notified the Historic Places Trust, he said.
"If they are going to build they will need to get an authority from the Historic Places Trust to do so. There was a large pa site not far away and it's not unusual to find sites like this close to a pa site."
Council consents manager Ralph Broad said the council had no record of the oven and it was the responsibility of the developers to contact the Historic Places Trust if they found anything.
"At the end of the consent conditions there is a separate advice note regarding the consent holders' responsibilities in respect of ‘archaeological sites' under the Historic Places Act," Mr Broad said.
This was a standard arrangement advocated by the Historic Places Trust which administers the Historic Places Act and was needed to manage unexpected discoveries which may occur anywhere where old buildings were demolished or earthworks or ground disturbance was undertaken, Mr Broad said.
The advice note said "archaeological sites may include oven stones."
- Taranaki Daily News
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