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Skull Confirmed As Pre-European

Northland District Headquarters
Walton Plaza, Whangärei

Skull Confirmed As Pre-European

Northland Police investigating the discovery of a human skull have received expert advice that confirms the skull is Pre-European.

The skull was located on the roadside near the Hokianga township of Opononi on Thursday last week (12 June 2008).

A member of the public had noticed two dogs playing on the grass verge with what she initially thought was a ball.

When she drove back a few hours later she noticed the 'ball' was now lying in the grass. She immediately recognised it as a human skull and stopped to investigate.

The following day she handed the remains in to the Rawene Police. An initial examination identified a distinct round hole in the side of the skull, appearing to the untrained eye to be consistent with a bullet hole.

Members of the Kaikohe Criminal Investigation Branch searched the area and conducted inquiries with local Kaumatua.

The area where the skull was found was not known to be a burial ground, however the Southern Hokianga has a significant history of conflicts and land wars from the 19th Century.

It appeared that the skull had become unearthed due to recent erosion of the bank below the roadside. The bank borders the Hokianga Harbour and is eroding at a rapid rate causing much some of the tar-sealed highway above the bank to sink.

The skull was delivered to Auckland for closer examination by Forensic Pathologist Dr Jane Vutelic.

She confirmed yesterday (17June 2008) that the skull is very old and definitely Pre-European. She was also able to state that the hole in the side of the skull was a post-mortem injury.

The human remains will now be returned to Northland where they will be handed over to local iwi.


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