Human remains have been unearthed at a beach in Maketū after a slip.

Local iwi and police have placed a rāhui on the eastern side of Ōkurei Point in Maketū after a landslide washed human remains into the sea.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust chairman Sir Toby Curtis said the remains, which were possibly pre-European, became dislodged from one of the first burial sites in the Maketū area after the slip and washed into the surrounding area, including at Newdicks Beach.

The landslide was believed to have happened sometime before Christmas, he said.


Sir Toby said some human bones have since been recovered and were being stored at Te Puke police station until a decision could be made where and when to rebury them.

"It is possible more human remains could also be washed up on Newdicks Beach and that is why the rāhui is being put in place for six weeks," he said.

"The rāhui period also gives us the chance to connect with all the people we need to in the community, and we have also sought advice from Heritage New Zealand."

The rāhui involves a ban on collecting kaimoana shellfish or other seafood until the koiwi a tangata (human remains) had been retrieved and were reinterred.

The rāhui area includes all of Newdicks Beach and extends 8km to the south towards Little Waihī Beach, and also covers 500m to the north.

The public was asked to avoid the area and respect the rāhui, which was put in place from January 14 and is expected to be lifted by February 24.

The rāhui has been imposed under the authority of Sir Toby, Liam Tapsell and Tony Wihapi on behalf of Te Arawa Lakes Trust, Maketū Taiāpure, Ngāti Whakaue ki Maketū Tapuika and the police.

A police media spokeswoman said Te Puke police were holding human bones which were brought to the Te Puke police station in recent days.


"We have been in touch with the local iwi in relation to returning them to them," she said.

"General advice for anyone who comes across human or possible human remains is to notify police, who can help ensure the area is secure and notify relevant parties, such as Heritage NZ and local iwi, who will determine the appropriate action to take from there."