'I knew it was something significant'

Department of Conservation historic technical adviser  Shar Briden (left) and Otakou runanga...
Department of Conservation historic technical adviser Shar Briden (left) and Otakou runanga kaumatua Edward Ellison with the recently unearthed waka found in Papanui Inlet. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
If it were not for changing tidal flows, the fishing waka unearthed from Papanui Inlet on Otago Peninsula at the weekend might never have been discovered, Department of Conservation historic technical adviser Shar Briden said.

The 6.17m waka was under 1.6m of sand and was discovered by chance in August by Ms Briden.

She said the channel flow had changed, with the estuary water now cutting over the top of the waka.

''Coastal erosion may also have something to do with it.''

Just 2cm was sticking out of the sand when she first saw it.

''To most lay-people, it would just look like the top of a fencepost sticking up out of the sand.

''I thought, oh my God. It freaked me out.

''Because of the other waka pieces that we'd seen with that totara look to it, with adzing, I immediately knew it was something significant.

''But I didn't know what it was until we were given permission to dig down and have a look at it.

''And to see the hull shape ... It's the find of an archaeologist's's lifetime.''

The waka was excavated and refloated using whale pontoons at the weekend, and moved across the estuary at high tide to where it could be retrieved.

The waka is believed to be the only one found in Otago, and has archaeologists around the country buzzing.

Parts of it are now being tested in Auckland and Dunedin to determine its age and how it was built.

Ms Briden said the area where it was found had been carefully monitored by Doc staff since 2005, and the waka was just one of many taonga discovered in recent times.

Human remains, an outrigger float and a small trap had also been found. Ms Briden said it was too early to say what would happen to the waka, but it could end up in a museum.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment

 

Advertisement

postanote_header_620_x_80.png

postanote_620_x_25.jpg

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter