21 Sep 2022

After almost three months of digging and scraping, archaeologists are nearing the end of their work on the Te Kaha multi-use arena site.

So far the Underground Overground Archaeology team has discovered more than 170 boxes-worth of artefacts in “the largest project of its kind in Christchurch”.

A Chilean peso dating back to 1853 is among the historical pieces unearthed at the Te Kaha site.

From a Chilean peso dated in 1853, through to crockery, bottles, pots, smoking pipes, old wells and brick fireplaces, the archaeologists have unearthed a wealth of historical pieces that tell the story of the city’s early colonial settlers.

Principal archaeologist Clara Watson says their finds are mainly domestic-related, as the land was primarily residential in the 1800s.

“What we’re finding really interesting, though, is how intact the sites we’re investigating are,” says Ms Watson.

“Quite a few 19th century houses and properties were demolished and the land was then used for car-parking and the like, so the sites are relatively undisturbed.

“We’ve discovered landscaping features, drainpipes for gardens, garden rows and house pilings. A lot of the time we don’t find these sorts of things as they’re usually wiped out.”

The team has also discovered plenty of rubbish pits.

“There wasn’t a red bin service in those days, so the usual way to get rid of your trash at home was to simply bury it,” she says.

The number of finds is expected to fill more than 200 boxes before they finish next month. Ms Watson says it will take most of next year to categorise and document all of the artefacts they have found.

Archaeology is part of the early works package that is currently under way on the Te Kaha site.

Once completed, Te Kaha will be a 30,000-seat covered multi-use arena that will be able to host everything from international tests and music acts, to corporate functions and sports events.

For more information on Te Kaha, visit canterburyarena.co.nz or sign up for the monthly e-newsletter.