Undocumented pā site discovered in Auckland during building works

In 2021, archaeologist Hans-Dieter Bader who works with Tāmaki Regeneration, discovered evidence that a piece of land on Armin Road was once a pā site. 

This is the first fortified pā site discovered in many years that is uncatalogued.

“It's very very unusual to find a pā site. For many decades it's the first pā site that we've found in Tāmaki Makaurau,” Hans says.

As part of their commitment to uphold the cultural heritage of the sites they work on, Tāmaki Regeneration ensures there is an archaeologist on site for the initial phase of every development. 

When evidence of historic significance is found, they put a pause to any construction on the site.

Mihi Tibble, who works at Tāmaki Regeneration as the general manager of the Māori Pacific and Community team, thinks this should be standard practice across the country.

“There isn’t any other decision but to make it a priority,” she says.

“And so we did. What we've got to do now is consider what is the next step. And part of that will come through as we continue our talks with mana whenua in that space.”

Rikki Solomon (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa) works alongside Tāmaki Regeneration during these processes and agrees that in these situations, developers need to take a step back to consider the best way to move forward. 

“It should be the iwi, and the hapu and the developers working together as a collaborative.”

There are many cases in Aotearoa of developments being planned or built on historic pā sites, urupa and wāhi tapu. Perhaps the process underway in Tāmaki is the example for others to follow in the future.

This is part of our reo Māori series, Ohinga, created by Mahi Tahi Media, with funding from Te Māngai Pāho and the NZ on Air Public Interest Journalism Fund. Stay tuned for a new episode every week.

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