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Protecting our precious places

Archaeological sites - protecting with QEII covenants, Part 2

Archaeological sites are irreplaceable parts of our heritage. Private landowners can play an important role by protecting them with QEII open space covenants.

What is an archaeological site?

The Historic Places Act 1993 defines an archaeological site as a place associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand.

While some sites are easily recognised, others may be hidden underground or beneath vegetation.

Some landowners choose to give added protection to their archaeological sites, even though such sites are protected under the Historic Places Act 1993.

A QEII covenant is one way to protect an archaeological site in perpetuity.

What protection does the law give archaeological sites?

The Historic Places Act 1993 makes it unlawful for any person to destroy, damage or modify the whole or any part of an archaeological site, whether or not the land on which the site is located is designated, or a resource or building consent has been issued, without the prior authority of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

If there is a chance you may damage a site, you must apply to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust for permission to do so. This Trust can advise you of the most suitable course of action.

For advice on the best management and protection for a particular site, please contact the Historic Places Trust or visit their website

Hawke’s Bay kumara pits

Maori developed storage pits to protect kumara seed stock and food supplies from the cold and wet during winter.

The archaeological remains of these storage pits can often be found on ridges and river terraces above gardens throughout the North Island and northern South Island.

There are two common forms: rua (bell shaped) and rectangular. Rectangular pits with raised rims are found mainly on the east coast of the North Island while bell shaped underground pits are found in Taranaki.

Source: Archaeological Remains of New Zealand’s First Gardens, New Zealand Historic Places Trust brochure

At Kaimata north of Napier, Jeana and David Giblin protected a series of pits, a coastal limestone cliff and a regenerating bush gully with a 1.3ha QEII covenant in 2006.

Kumara pits in Hawke's Bay Photo: Marie Taylor

Above: The closely grouped, roughly rectangular pits are located at the top of the limestone cliff in the Giblins’ covenant.

With significant archaeological values, this area is part of the Heipipi Pa system, one of the oldest pa in Hawke’s Bay.

A 1995 archaeological report notes that the surface evidence suggests Heipipi was mostly a garden complex although the abundance of shell middens indicates some occupation was probable.

Restoration plantings in Hawke's Bay Photo: Marie Taylor

Above: Jeana and David Giblin have planted over 4,000 native plants in the gully section of their covenant.

‘Having the covenant in place means the pits and restoration plantings will be protected forever,’ says Jeana.

To control blackberry, pampas and barberry on the limestone cliff face that is also protected by the covenant, funding assistance has been obtained from the Biodiversity Condition Fund.


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Open Space
™ Magazine No. 75, March 2009 © QEII National Trust

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