Dig finds kumara gardens

Sep 30th, 2017 | By | Category: Latest News, Local History
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Archaeologists working on the Hamilton Section of the Waikato Expressway have uncovered further evidence of Maori settlement at Tamahere.

In 2015, before excavations began for the Southern Interchange at Tamahere, archaeologists investigated large areas of known archaeological sites on the deer farm opposite Cherry Lane and found evidence of large scale pre-European kumara gardening.

In pre-European times, tangata whenua located deposits of course sand to mix with topsoil to improve the drainage and growing conditions for kumara.

The site showed evidence of small storage pits, a few larger storage pits, and small areas used for cooking, plus a small number of post holes, perhaps representing small or temporary structures.


This year, a second site was uncovered by construction staff and identified by cultural monitors, opposite Bollard Road. Work stopped in the immediate area for two weeks while archaeologists investigated.

This year’s site provided evidence for small storage pits, a few larger storage pits, and small areas used for cooking, plus a small number of post holes, perhaps representing small or temporary structures. The evidence was spread quite widely over a large area.

Project Archaeologist Sian Keith said it was likely that the area had been used to store foodstuffs such as kumara.

On this topic: ‘Father of Tamahere’ signs in

“This area was markedly different from the gardening area at the deer farm,” she said. “At the deer farm site there were a large number of small bowl-shaped pits, or puke, which were filled with sand and were for gardening, perhaps to raise kumara seedlings in the spring.”

The few post holes found indicated these may have supported pataka – raised storehouses for kumara or other food. Scientific analysis of soil samples will help to shed more light on the finding.

“We didn’t find neat rows of post holes that would indicate formal buildings, so it’s unlikely people lived here. And we didn’t find any significant artefacts,” Keith said.

The investigated area is close to known pa sites.

The information will be formally recorded and has been shared with tangata whenua as the work has progressed.

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