Police are investigating the discovery of possible human remains in a Wellington backyard - uncovered as a resident dug up their garden.
A Wadestown resident wrote on social media that she had uncovered what appeared to be a human skull in the garden of her property in Weld St, Wadestown.
"The police are here because we dug up a human skull and the rest of the body may also be in our garden," the resident wrote, adding that the skull appeared to be "pretty old".
Crime scene co-ordinator David Macintosh told the Herald the homeowner was digging in the garden when they discovered the skull.
"They called police, we have attended and asked for confirmation from the anthropologist and pathologist who believe it is possibly a human skull, but can't determine how old it is."
Macintosh confirmed the skull was not recent and had not been freshly buried. "It's not a normal thing to find when you're digging up your backyard."
The homeowner declined to comment further.
A police spokesperson told the Herald the Institute of Environmental Science and Research would be analysing the remains.
"Police inquiries are ongoing," the spokesperson said.
Police were still at the scene on Weld St at 6pm on Saturday. Officers could be seen covering an area of the backyard with a tarpaulin.
A scene guard remained in place overnight and police will return today to continue the investigation.
One neighbour told the Herald they had seen one or two police in the area from about 3pm. They said the neighbourhood was usually very quiet, and the homeowners who live there were friendly.
The Weld St resident described the finding as "a little bit creepy".
"It would be so scary to be gardening and find something like that."
Another neighbour told the Herald the area where the skull was found has been undisturbed for quite some time, but recently there's been some developments and tree-felling.
"I was joking it's a cold case because that area had been undisturbed for a long time," she said. "It's a bit spooky down there."
Wadestown is one of the oldest suburbs in Wellington, and the woman says the remains could have been in the garden for years. But a lot of rubbish gets thrown down the side of the gully so it could also be that, she theorised.
"It's definitely kind of weird but quite exciting really," she said. "Things aren't very exciting around here - it's very boring and suburban."
Neither the president of the Wadestown Residents Association nor the president of the neighbouring Highland Park Progressive Association were aware of the discovery when contacted by the Herald this evening.
"It's obviously quite a surprise to discover something like that," said Highland Park president Greg Hyland. "It's not something we see every day, thankfully."
The community has a rich history, with some of the original settlers in Wellington having established estates there before they were parcelled up into the modern-day configurations, he said. Hyland said he doesn't know what the rules would have been for burying family on one's property more than a century ago but that scenario would be a reassuring one.
"We're hopeful it is a very old skull," he said.
Wadestown, which has a population of just under 4000 residents, was considered Wellington's first suburb after it was settled by auctioneer John Wade in 1841. The majority of houses in the area were constructed in the 1920s, with a median sales price for homes in the area these days going for $1.88 million, according to OneRoof.co.nz.
The street where the remains were found is considered one of the steepest in the region, according to the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.