Workers from Ruapehu District Council's water contractor Veolia reinstating a storm water culvert on River Rd in Taumarunui were surprised to uncover what they thought was a grave marker.

Council environmental manager Anne Maire Westcott said the Veolia workers got a bit of a surprise when they uncovered the edge of the concrete grave marker they naturally assumed covered a burial site.

"As best practice of council's protocols, all work immediately comes to a halt until what we are dealing with can be fully determined."

That includes notifying the police, local iwi and health services.


"Local kaumatua were notified and attended to bless the work site and undertake the protocols of tikanga practices.

"Following this, the contractors were given the go-ahead to stabilise the area. We then found that the grave marker had been used to cover a water main, as part of historic work to protect the main from the stormwater pipe. The slab has now been removed from the work site allowing the reinstatement work to continue."

RDC's chief executive said the council thanks all parties involved for their attendance and participation in dealing with this sensitive matter.