A popular beachfront restaurant at Long Bay Regional Park is facing its third summer of closure as owner Auckland Council tries to meet concerns of iwi and archaeologists over ancient human bones found on the site.

The restaurant closed in May 2013 after 12 years of operation so that the council could refurbish it.

However work has stopped twice when koiwi or pre-European bones were uncovered.

Construction at the Long Bay Restaurant has been halted several times due to bones being found. Photo / Greg Bowker
Construction at the Long Bay Restaurant has been halted several times due to bones being found. Photo / Greg Bowker

Since November, the restaurant has been reduced to wooden deck foundation beams on top of the sand dune overlooking the beach and a concrete slab on the park lawn.

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On Friday, the council said it had lodged a second application with Heritage New Zealand for an authority to modify an archaeological site.

Council regional and specialist parks manager Mace Ward said the new application was required as a result of consultation with iwi.

It was agreed to excavate the full footprint on the building and associated earthworks, which required full destruction of the archaeological site.

Mr Ward said the original authority to modify the site did not cover the full footprint of the building.

Proposed work under this second authority, included removing the existing concrete slab plus footpaths, roadway and part of a sand dune.

"This seeks to clear the full footprint of any archaeology, including koiwi," said Mr Ward.

Subject to the approval of Heritage NZ, the archaeological work to clear the site was planned for early October.

However, no date had been set for continuing with the rebuild for a cafe/restaurant at the park, because the floor plate, or concrete slab, for the building was to be part of the rebuild.

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"Its removal implies some building design changes may be required.

"This will not be considered until the site is clear and any engineering and consequent design impacts can be assessed."

Mr Ward said the council looked forward to again providing the facility but meanwhile the park had a kiosk over summer which had maintained a service for visitors.

Heritage NZ archaeologist Bev Parslow said it was working with Ngati Whatua o Kaipara and the council on proposals for the restaurant to ensure that correct protocols and procedures are followed in line with the archaeological provisions of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act.

When koiwi are found, the Police contact the iwi to ensure protocol for removal and decisions for reinterment are culturally appropriate.

Long Bay, in the urban north-eastern bays has a million visitors a year and at its peak, the restaurant employed 25 people.

But yesterday its visitors were beach walkers peering through the surrounding wire-netting fence, which costs the council $71.50 a week to hire.

"It was sad when it all went," said visitor Colin Sandford.

"It was a thriving little restaurant right on the beach...fabulous sitting on the deck on a fine day.

"It would be nice to see it back and come here for lunch or dinner, this area is getting bigger all the time with the Long Bay village being built."

Long Bay residents Lorna and Malcolm Stewart said its present derelict state was a shame when they recalled taking overseas guests and attending weddings and birthdays there.

"It's a million-dollar amenity. Very few places equal this one, right on the beach."