Artefacts found on old Wellington foreshore

7 July 2017

We don’t need Indiana Jones or Hollywood – it’s all here on Wellington’s old foreshore!

Denton Park brick wall excavation carried out under an archaeological authority issued by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

A 19th-century smoking pipe is one of the artefacts found at Denton Park during an archaeological excavation.

The excavation was the first step in works for the Lombard Lane upgrade – which aims to make the laneway and Denton Park a more attractive and inviting space for people to visit and use.

The pipe is one of a “fantasies” series of famous characters of the time. These were produced by French pipe manufacturer Gambier. The pipe depicts champion English rower James Renforth and appeared in catalogues in 1868 and 1879 before being discontinued.

It was found in a rubbish pit alongside a buried brick wall that was also uncovered during the dig. Based on Thomas Ward’s 1891 plan of Wellington, the wall appears to be part of a six-roomed house.

Wellington City Councillor Nicola Young, Portfolio Leader for Central City Projects, says it’s fascinating to uncover objects that help paint a picture of the city’s past.

“The original beach was identified during the excavation. Wellington’s foreshore originally followed the alignment of Bond Street – its name reminds us it was the site of the city’s Bond Store – where several commercial wharves were built.”

Wellington City Council has a heritage team who keep a close watch on projects like this where it is an area of significance. Denton Park is also on the site of the Te Aro Redoubt, which was constructed in 1845 in response to the perceived threat from Maori during the New Zealand Wars.

A range of ceramics, broken glass and metal was also found, along with reclamation fill and a ring.

Vanessa Tanner, a City Council Senior Heritage Advisor, says renewing Denton Park has provided an opportunity to investigate a site important in the early history of Wellington. The information gathered during the excavation will contribute to future interpretation of the site.

The work was carried out under an archaeological authority issued by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.