Amy, Fletcher and Cooper with their find at Tahunanui Beach. Photo: Brendan Morton.

Beach relics ‘most likely’ WW2 era

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Concrete structures that were found on Tahunanui Beach by passers-by are “most likely” part of WW2 fortifications, according to a local archaeologist.

In October, curious concrete treasures were discovered by young boys who decided to dig them up.

Pictures were then posted on social media and people put forward a number of suggestions as to what they were. These included dumped concrete that had been washed along by the sea, bits of a concrete tank or a concrete pipeline.

However, the most interesting theory was that the pieces were once part of a WW2 fortification.

The Nelson City Council had to remove the structures because they were a danger to kite surfers but it enlisted archaeologist Amanda Young who took a detailed look at photographs of them.

“We were a bit flummoxed as they do look like they are WW2 defence fortifications, but they are not cropping up in any of the records,” she says. “There was a big complex of coastal defences around Nelson during that time and even earlier, during WW1 with the Russian scare. But I had never heard of ones there.”

Amanda says that the structures have been stored carefully and recorded because of their likely historical sensitivity.

“It is the most likely theory (that they are from WW2). We went through all sorts of idea – that maybe they were port lights but looking at the concrete and where they were located, it didn’t add up.”

Another theory posited by local history enthusiast Kerry Neal was that they were a discarded storm water system. But Amanda says that the structures weren’t connected to anything.

She says they are not protected by law “but we felt that especially if they are WW2 relics we have to think of the best way to preserve them”.

“We didn’t want to throw them out.” Amanda says there are plenty of known WW2-era relics around the city including a radio bunker underneath the Nelson Airport.

“You can’t see it, but we know exactly where it is.”

There is also a bunker on Arapiki Rd and observation posts around Nelson’s cliffs.

“Council’s policy was always that any of those WW2 remains that aren’t a danger are put on the plan and preserved.”

A council spokesperson confirmed the Tahunanui structures were being held at a storage facility in the Brook Valley. The spokesperson says that if anyone sees anything uncovered by the tide it will arrange to remove it if it is creating a hazard.

“It’s getting busy down at the beach and we want to keep it safe for everyone.”