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Historic pa find to be preserved on site

24 March 2006

Historic pa find to be preserved on site

Wellington City Council, iwi, developers and the Historic Places Trust have come up with a plan to preserve intact remains of an historic pa site in central Wellington.

The plan, which involves redesigning the building to be constructed on the site, follows months of investigations by engineers and archaeologists and discussions between the parties involved.

Three ponga structures were unearthed at 39 Taranaki Street next to the Courtenay Place precinct during development work for an apartment complex. The find is believed to be part of the original Te Aro Pa dating back to the 1840s, and is considered to be unique since excavations rarely uncover intact Maori structures.

The Council’s Culture and Arts Portfolio Leader, Cr Ray Ahipene-Mercer, says the redesign of the apartment building is a fantastic result for the city. “Everybody has put a lot of work into this project and the Council is extremely happy that a solution has been reached that satisfies everyone involved. The developer gets to complete the building and iwi preserve a key part of their history.”

Cr Ahipene-Mercer says the outcome is a credit to all parties, including the Council, Wellington Tenths Trust, the developer Washington Limited, Historic Places Trust and government.

Tenths Trust Acting Executive Officer, Liz Mellish, says the option that has been chosen is the best result that iwi could have wished for.

“We are very excited about what has been achieved and are greatly encouraged by the commitment of the developer and the Council to preserving the homes of our ancestors. The agreement shows what can be achieved by working closely with developers and local authorities.”

The developer’s spokesman, David Dowsett, says he is happy with the agreement reached. Mr Dowsett says the building redesign includes avoiding the use of piling around the ponga structures to minimise the effects of vibrations. He says construction work could start in a couple of weeks’ time.

Once the building is completed, the public will be able to view two of the ponga structures during the daytime seven days a week, with access to the third by arrangement.


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