March 03, 2017
Matapihi road works turn up land wars trench
Contractors widening the side of State Highway 29a in Matapihi to install a new median barrier have discovered what could be a defensive trench from the New Zealand Land Wars of the earlier inter-tribal musket wars.
Construction has been suspended while the site is excavated by the New Zealand Transport Agency, Heritage New Zealand and hapu representatives.
The site had previously been identified as being in an area of archaeological significance for Ngai Tukairangi, Ngati He and Ngati Tapu.
Archaeologist Sian Keith says the trench is about 40 metres long and appears to have been used as a coastal defence around the 1830s to 1860s.
It’s away from other well-known battle sites around Tauranga, so depending on the date it could add some important information to the national historic record.
The agency will talk with the hapu and Heritage New Zealand about how the site might be permanently acknowledged.
The median barrier project is expected to be completed by the middle of this year.
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