The public is being asked to help with investigations into the origin of suspected historic graves on the planned route for the SH50 Hawke's Bay Expressway Southern Extension.
The suspected graves, located near Irongate Road, were found by the NZ Transport Agency in August using ground penetrating radar. It is believed they are dated from the second half of the nineteenth century and the manner of burial appears to be European, but no further details on the origin of the graves have been established.
Regional Manager Rob Bramley says the NZTA has placed a public notice in Saturday’s Hawke’s Bay Today inviting the public to assist with investigations.
“We’ve conducted a thorough investigation but we haven’t yet identified the origin of what appears to be a number of graves. There’s been a lot of interest in this discovery, and we’d like to give the public an opportunity to volunteer any information that they think could help us move forward.”
Mr Bramley says there are no plans at this stage to remove the suspected graves.
“At the moment we’re focused on learning more about this discovery. Whether or not we have any breakthroughs, we’ll be working very closely with the Hastings District Council, local iwi, the Historic Places Trust, the Ministry of Health, and all other interested parties to make sure we go about this the right way.”
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule says local knowledge could help researchers identify how the suspected graves got there and who their descendants might be.
“This is potentially a significant piece of our history, and any clues that could shed some light on their origin will be welcomed.”