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Transit Wants To Destroy A Unique Part Of NZ

18 June 2002

Campaign for a Better City, PO Box 11-964, Wellington
email: cbc@tradeshall.org.nz web-site: www.cbc.org.nz

Transit Wants To Destroy A Unique Part Of New Zealand’s Archaeology

Next time you take a wander up Upper Cuba Street and stroll along Tonks Avenue you’ll not only be walking amongst some of Wellington’s oldest buildings, you will also be walking above a unique part of New Zealand’s history, at least according to the NZ Historic Places Trust.

In a document obtained by CBC under the Official Information Act, The NZ Historic Places Trust has assessed the area of the proposed bypass as “a complex archaeological landscape”1. In its assessment, The Trust paid particular attention to Tonks Ave and Cuba Street, describing it as having “extremely high archaeological values”2 whose buildings “provide an insight into the social organisation and way of life of Wellington’s European settlers.”3 The Trust describes Transit’s plan for the ‘New Tonks Avenue’ as “limited in that it does not recognize the archaeological values of these places and the link between standing structures and subsurface archaeological remains.”4 and bemoaned the fact that “The relocation proposal does not involve the reconstruction of the Tonks Ave layout, so the interrelated nature of the buildings will not be retained.”5

Despite this high praise the Trust still decided to grant Transit NZ the authority to destroy or modify the greater part of the archaeology of the area – a fact which astonishes Campaign for a Better City spokesperson, Alan Whiting.

“The Trust’s archaeological assessment reinforces the arguments that CBC has been putting forward for many years. We feel vindicated in our stand to protect this unique area but we are bemused by the Trust’s decision to allow Transit to destroy a unique part of New Zealand’s archaeology.”

In addition The Trust acknowledges that “Although Transit NZ were aware of the need for an Archaeological Authority since 1995 archaeological values were not considered during either the Commissioners Hearing or the appeal [to the Environment Court in 1998]”6.
Commenting, Campaign for a Better City spokesperson, Alan Whiting said “The Trust’s comments raise serious issues about the approach of Transit NZ to the archaeology of this area. However, the Trust chose not to appear at the 1998 Environment Court hearings where it could have raised these issues. Between them, the Trust and Transit NZ have created a situation whereby the issue of archaeology has become separated from the matters considered at earlier hearings. The upcoming appeal will provide an opportunity for the court to consider all of the relevant issues and we look forward to a full assessment of these matters.”

All Trust quotes are taken from the ’Form for the assessment of section 11 and section 12 applications’ which was completed in relation to Transit NZ’s application for three general authorities to modify, damage or destroy archaeological sites within the area designated for the Wellington Inner City Bypass.

1 p5, para 2
2 p11, para 4
3 p11, para 2
4 p11, para 4
5 p11, para 4
6 p13, para 1


For Campaign for a Better City Inc. contact Alan Whiting: (04) 384 2201

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