Delays after shells found in bank anger residents

By Genevieve Helliwell


The discovery of a cluster of pipi shells has halted a million-dollar roading project.

Archaeologists and iwi representatives have inspected the midden of shellfish remains, which were found in the side of a hill about 3km from McLaren Falls Rd.

The cluster of shells was found about a month ago by contractors who were undertaking work to make McLaren Falls Rd wider and safer for vehicles.

The finding has set back the completion of the project, angering some residents.

Inroads Capital Works manager Bryan Crean said consent to continue work on the site could take up to about three months, while archaeologists and representatives from Ngati Hangarau inspected the find, which he described as "a midden of archeological material".

"We are one month into the process required to achieve the Historic Places Trust consent and once this has been granted there is then a three-week period for objections before we can recommence earthworks," Mr Crean said.

He said the find would create "slight delays" on the completion of the project and the financial impacts, provided no other archaeological material was found, would be minor.

Workers had moved to other areas of the road and continued work while the application to gain consent was being processed, Mr Crean said.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said the road had been left in a "dangerous condition" when work was halted immediately after the discovery.

"It's absolutely ludicrous. It's costing everyone - the council, the iwi, taxpayers, and what for? Nothing's going to happen. They're going to document it and get on with the work anyway," he said.

When the shells were discovered a group of experts, including iwi representatives, visited the site, the man said.

Since then, no work has been done near where the shells were found.

"Around this area, from here to the Mount and places in between, there are lots of shells all over the place from when people came up from the sea and ate their food then dumped the shells," the man said.

Another McLaren Falls Rd resident said her car had been scratched by loose stones from the ongoing roadwork.

She said she was frustrated by the lack of action on the roadworks but understood that the council's hands were tied.

"I know they're bound by formal processes but this is beyond a joke. I am so frustrated and I just want them to get on with it and finish the job."

Ngati Hangarau did not respond to calls before edition time.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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