Site unearths no evidence of war

The site of the levelled police station on Monmouth St has failed to become the archaeological treasure trove it was expected to be.

Archaeologists at the police site, which is near the site of the New Zealand wars-era military camp, the Monmouth Redoubt, have not uncovered as much as they had hoped.

John O'Hare, spokesman for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, said archaeologists had been left disappointed by the lack of evidence at the site.

"Our archaeologists said they were expecting a little bit more, certainly from a police and military perspective. But the way it's worked out, it doesn't seem to be there," Mr O'Hare said.

The site is historically significant. It was first known as Taumatakahawai Pa, but was abandoned by Maori in 1828. In 1864 the Monmouth Light Infantry took over the site. Since their departure soon after, first the Armed Constabulary and then the police have occupied the city position.

"Because the old [recently demolished police] building was so close to the historic Monmouth Redoubt, it was important that any earthworks went through the archaeological authority process.

"Under the Historic Places Act an archaeological site is defined as any place where human activity took place before 1900. That's certainly the case with the police station/redoubt area," Mr O'Hare said.

Archaeologist Ken Phillips said some pre-European evidence had been recovered from the site, but nothing from the site's military history.

"To date, archaeological evidence of Taumatakahawai Pa has been identified, recorded and excavated. These remains are considered significant and represent the only intact evidence of this little-known pa in central Tauranga.

"[But] no archaeological evidence of 1860s military occupation of the area or pre-1900 armed constabulary or police activity has been found," he said.

Ngai Tamarawaho kaumatua Peri Kohu said: "Our role has been to support this investigation and I can confirm that apart from some post holes and evidence of prior occupation ... the preliminary investigation has not resulted in any significant items being found."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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