Human skeletal remains discovered on Kapiti Island in early October will be reburied soon.

A Department of Conservation ranger discovered some human skeletal remains on the island in an area of subsidence by the shoreline on October 8.

Police were notified a day later and then a day after that sent the police launch Lady Elizabeth 4 to the scene with a detective, a search specialist, a photographer and a pathologist onboard.

"Our first criteria, from a police perspective, was to see if there was any criminal element involved," Detective Inspector Scott Miller said.


The pathologist estimated the bones dated back to the early 1900s.

"As a result of that we organised for a skull, an arm bone, a leg bone, five teeth and four vertebrae to be picked up and brought into Wellington and then sent to an anthropologist in Dunedin who would examine them."

ISLAND: Human skeletal remains were found on Kapiti Island last month.
ISLAND: Human skeletal remains were found on Kapiti Island last month.

Various tests by the anthropologist indicated the remains dated back to pre 1900s and was a young female aged between 20 to 35 of Polynesian descent.

A blessing was held in Dunedin before the remains were taken back to Wellington where they have been safely secured at Kapiti police station before the police launch takes a delegation, via the Plimmerton Boating Club, to the island soon, to bury remains in a carefully selected place.

Mr Miller said given how the remains were found, in a shallow grave with a tree over the top, and close to the water, it fitted into burial protocols a long time ago.

"And local iwi have that same opinion."

The three iwi in Kapiti - Ngati Toa, Te Atiawa and Ngati Raukawa - have been involved during the process via a police iwi liaison officer.

Ngati Toa chairman Taku Parai said it had been important that the removal and reinterment of the bones was "done in a proper traditional way that we're happy and agree with".

"It has been a good open process.

"We've been very happy with police, the Maori liaison officer, and the communication between the iwi."